NEWS FROM THE AUTO TRADER RAC TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP, 5/9/97 PROSPECTS for an action-packed pair of Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship rounds at Brands Hatch on Sunday were given a boost this afternoon (Fri) by one of the closest-fought official test sessions seen this season.

With five different makes of car filling the top five positions on today's timesheets and the top 12 runners all inside the qualifying record for the Brands Indy circuit -- and covered by less than half a second -- the omens could not be brighter.

Anthony Reid chalked up a testing first for the Nissan team, topping the times with a 44.270seconds lap of the 1.2-mile track. The 1996 champion, Frank Biela, was second quickest for Audi, two-tenths slower. Biela will on Sunday bid to consolidate his second placing overall in the championship.

Newly crowned champion Alain Menu was sixth fastest today, just behind his Renault team-mate Jason Plato. With tomorrow's (Saty) Auto Trader Championship qualification sessions cancelled as a mark of respect on the day of the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, the grid for the first of Sunday's twin BTCC rounds will be decided by a dramatic 15-minute qualification session on Sunday morning. The grid for the second race of the day will be determined by lap times in the first event. Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship Official testing, Brands Hatch, 5/9/97 1 Anthony Reid (GB), Nissan Primera, 44.270s, 97.87mph; 2 Frank Biela (Ger), Audi A4, 44.462s; 3 Rickard Rydell (Swe), Volvo S40, 44.480s; 4 Gabriele Tarquini (It), Honda Accord, 44.517s; 5 Jason Plato (GB), Renault Laguna, 44.566s; 6 Alain Menu (Switz), Renault Laguna, 44.578s; 7 James Thompson (GB), Honda Accord, 44.600s; 8 David Leslie (GB), Nissan Primera, 44.641s; 9 John Bintcliffe (GB), Audi A4, 44.669s; 10 Paul Radisich (NZ), Ford Mondeo, 44.705s; 11 Will Hoy (GB), Ford Mondeo, 44.711s; 12 Kelvin Burt (GB), Volvo S40, 44.744s.