NEWS FROM THE AUTO TRADER RAC BRITISH TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP Brands Hatch, Kent, 11/06/95
CLELAND TAKES CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD
Vauxhall's Scots ace John Cleland stole the lead of the Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch this afternoon (Sunday) from Sweden's Rickard Rydell, who struck trouble in both of the damp back-to-back races and finished the day by rolling his Volvo.
Cleland, the 1989 Champion, took second place behind Renault's Alain Menu in the first of the day's races, then won the second event at a canter. He now heads Menu in the championship by a slender two-point advantage, with the previously dominant Rydell slipping to third overall.
The first race of the double-header saw drama on the opening lap as pole position man Menu disputed the lead with Vauxhall's James Thompson. The pair were side by side for half a lap until they brushed and Thompson spun across the pack at Graham Hill. The ensuing collisions put the Ford Mondeos of Kiwi World Champion Paul Radisich and privateer leader Matt Neal out of the running, while Rydell spun down to 13th place.
That left John Cleland (Vauxhall) to pursue Menu, he in turn chased by Tim Harvey (Volvo), Kelvin Burt (Ford), Tim Sugden (Toyota), Patrick Watts (Peugeot) and Will Hoy (Renault). Burt disappeared off the track at Druids on lap two to cement Ford's misery and, shortly after Harvey had attacked Cleland for second place, with Hoy closing in in fourth, Sugden rolled at Clearways to bring out the red flags.
A restarted five-lap sprint saw Menu just managing to hold off Cleland at the chequered flag, with Harvey third and 1991 Champion Hoy fourth, scoring his best result of the year to date. Derek Warwick, recovered from his Oulton Park accident of a fortnight ago, finished eighth to score his first points of the season. Hamish Irvine (Peugeot) was the surprise Total Cup privateer victor.
The second race, round 12 of the championship, saw two first-lap stoppages. In the first incident, privateer Nigel Smith (Vauxhall) spun and stalled his car in a dangerous position on a circuit; then Rydell's throttle stuck and he rolled out of fifth place at Hawthorn shortly after the restart, badly damaging his Volvo. Like Sugden in the previous round, Rydell was unhurt.
Now cut to 10 laps, the race was a Cleland copybook performance, the Scot outdragging Menu and Thompson on the run to the first corner to assume a lead he was never to lose. Thompson slotted into second place and played the dutiful team-mate throughout, holding off Menu all the way to the flag. The real drama of the race was provided by Harvey, who slipped past fourth-placed man Hoy on lap eight and set about relieving Menu of third. The bid failed, however, and Harvey lost fourth place to Hoy into the bargain. Richard Kaye pipped Irvine for the privateer honours by a matter of inches.
RESULTS 1995 Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship, round 11 Brands Hatch, 11/06/95 13 laps -- 33.80 miles 1 Alain Menu (Switz), Renault Laguna, 22m 34.60s, 89.83mph; 2 John Cleland (GB), Vauxhall Cavalier 16V, ~1.35s; 3 Tim Harvey (GB), Volvo 850 20v, ~5.46s; 4 Will Hoy (GB), Renault Laguna, ~13.72s; 5 Patrick Watts (GB), Peugeot 405, ~25.22s; 6 Julian Bailey (GB), Toyota Carina E, ~27.13s; 7 Rickard Rydell (Swe), Volvo 850 20v, ~28.53s; 8 Derek Warwick (GB), Alfa Romeo 155, ~29.37s; 9 Giampiero Simoni (It), Alfa Romeo 155, ~33.13s; 10 Johnny Cecotto (Venez), BMW 318i, ~44.36s. Total Cup Privateers: Hamish Irvine (GB), Peugeot 405. Fastest lap: Cleland, 1m 42.12s, 91.66mph. Pole position: Menu, 1m 29.181s, 104.96mph.
Round 12 10 laps -- 26.00 miles 1 Cleland, 17m 39.02s, 88.39mph; 2 Thompson, ~0.62s; 3 Menu, ~0.97s; 4 Hoy, ~1.70s; 5 Harvey, ~2.22s; 6 Bailey, ~4.60s; 7 Paul Radisich (NZ), Ford Mondeo Ghia, ~5.35s; 8 Watts, ~10.04s; 9 Cecotto, ~13.36s; 10 David Brabham (Aus), BMW 318i, ~16.53s. Total Cup Privateers: Richard Kaye (GB), Ford Mondeo. Fastest lap: Menu, 1m 44.45s, 89.61mph. Pole position: Menu, 1m 29.062s, 105.10mph.
CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS Drivers:1 Cleland, 160 points; 2 Menu, 158; 3 Rydell, 146; 4 Harvey, 106; 5 Radisich, 96; 6 Thompson, 94; 7 Hoy, 48; 8 Kelvin Burt (GB/Ford), 44; 9 Bailey, 40; 10 Watts, 33. Manufacturers:1 Volvo, 203; 2 Vauxhall, 196; 3 Renault, 188; 4 Ford, 124; 5 Toyota, 80; 6 BMW, 75. Total Cup Privateers: 1 Matt Neal (GB/Ford), 198. Next round: Donington Park, 24-25/06/95.
-- Stephen M Baines
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