BTCC: Brands Hatch qualifying

NEWS FROM THE AUTO TRADER RAC TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP, 17/5/97 WITH less than a second covering the top 15 runners in qualifying for both of tomorrow's (Sun) live-televised Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship rounds, the Brands ...

NEWS FROM THE AUTO TRADER RAC TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP, 17/5/97 WITH less than a second covering the top 15 runners in qualifying for both of tomorrow's (Sun) live-televised Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship rounds, the Brands Hatch BTCC duel is shaping up to be the closest of the season so far.

Both of today's qualifying sessions at the Kent track were a Honda v Renault battle, drivers from each team taking turns at topping the timesheets. Championship leader Alain Menu emerged just in front of the round seven qualifying scrap to maintain the Williams-Renault team's 100 per cent pole position record, but then lost out to Honda and '94 champion Gabriele Tarquini in qualifying for round eight.

Menu will share the front row for round seven with his team-mate Jason Plato, while James Thompson went second quickest to Tarquini to make it an all-Honda sharp end for the eighth round.

Notable performances today included those of the Nissan team, Anthony Reid making it in to fourth slot on the grid for round eight, and the Volvo squad, whose drivers Rickard Rydell and Kelvin Burt have gone from pre-season pacesetters to summertime strugglers as they try to tame the new S40. Tomorrow's twin 38-lap races on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit mark the start of BBC TV's long-awaited live and uninterrupted coverage of the action-packed BTCC. The whole of tomorrow's BBC Grandstand show will be hosted live by Steve Rider direct from the Brands pit lane, with the track action scheduled for 1245 and 1545. Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship Official qualifying, Brands Hatch, 17/5/97 Round 7 1 Alain Menu (Switz), Renault Laguna, 44.826s, 96.66mph; 2 Jason Plato (GB), Renault Laguna, 44.845s; 3 James Thompson (GB), Honda Accord, 44.916s; 4 Gabriele Tarquini (It), Honda Accord, 44.994s; 5 Anthony Reid (GB), Nissan Primera, 45.007s Round 8 1 Tarquini, 44.909s, 96.48mph; 2 Thompson, 44.939s; 3 Menu, 44.959s; 4 Reid, 45.112s; 5 Plato, 45.240s

------- BTCC97 official website www.btcc.co.uk

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