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BTCC rounds 17 & 18 from Snetterton
Well, after last week's Audi walkover, this weekend's racing was a bit of a
disappointment. But the incredibly close and exciting racing more than made
up for that, and the BTCC is still one of the best championships to watch.
For the first race, Biela qualified fourth and Bintcliffe somewhere around
13th/14th place. Anthony Reid, who qualified third, made a great start but
lost his clutch soon after the start and had to retire. Alain Menu once
again showed the incredible preparation of the Renaults by driving in first
position all the way, although he was closely followed by James Thompson in
the Honda. Biela gained a place in the last round, after a very
closely-fought duel with Jason Plato, relegating Plato to 4th and getting
Biela some championship points. Some very exciting duels were fought, one
of them being between John Cleland in the Vauxhall and Patrick Watts in the
Peugeot. As the comment said 'they swapped paint'. Tarquini had a struggle
with Kelvin Burt in the Volvo, leading to both retiring with heavy
suspension damage. The duel between Plato and Biela was incredible, with
Biela making several attempts to pass. Even Murray Walker was impressed:
'Just look at that Audi going through the esses. As though it were on
Results of round 17: 1 Menu, 2 Thompson, 3 Biela, 4 Plato, 5 Rydell.
For the 18th race, Bintcliffe had an off in qualifying, making his car not
quite as sharp as he'd wanted it. Both Biela and Bintcliffe started out
somewhere around 10th/15th place, and got not a lot further. Reid qualified
on pole, but had to start from the back of the grid after an alleged
'technical infringement' with the front spoiler height. His battle to come
back to tenth(?) place was superb, and made for very exciting racing. From
the start, Plato took first, with Menu behind him, closely followed by
Tarquini and Thompson in the Hondas. It was a bad day for the Vauxhall
team, as Warwick was pushed off (only remaining on his wheels by a miracle)
by Radisich (who retired later with damage himself) and Cleland suffering a
puncture which damaged his car, forcing him to retire as well. The duel
between Biela and both Peugeots for tenth place was incredibly exciting,
but the hard driving meant a double retirement for the Peugeots, too
(Watts' flapping bonnet making it a hard-to-control car).
The end result of this race was 1 Plato, 2 Menu, 3 Tarquini, 4 Thompson, 5
Rydell. Biela came in 9th, I missed the result for Bintcliffe, who must
have been something like 14th or 15th.
The Renault win means that this year's championship is now officially for
Alain Menu, and their good results give Renault the manufacturer's as well
as the team cup. Biela ended up third in the overall championship (not too
bad, considering Audi's bad start this year). In the manufacturer's cup,
Audi takes 4th place.
The season is not over yet, with another race to be run (broadcast on
August 30th), but the results are decided anyway.
What will happen next year, as the ban on AWD will come into place? At the
STW Zweibruecken last week, Yvan Mueller's FWD Audi qualified way ahead of
the other Audis in fourth place. Does this mean that Audi's still
competitive even without the 'unfair advantage'? I hope next year will show
some exciting racing, with the silver cars yet again in front of the grid!
Tom Nas Zeist, The Netherlands
1988 Audi 80 1.8S, Tizianrot metallic, 212,000km
Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog:
Nobody really enjoys it and the frog generally dies as a result.