Round: 13-14 of 26 Venue: Croft Date: July 3-4
SMALL REWARD FOR FORD TEAM MONDEO AT CROFT CIRCUIT
CROFT, July 4, 1999: Ford Team Mondeo reaped a much smaller collection of points from rounds 13 and 14 of the Auto Trader British Touring Car Championship at Croft, near Darlington, than recent form has indicated.
Alain Menu, who qualified eighth on the grid for round 13, was working his way up the order when the battling drive ended prematurely after a wheel stud broke, which resulted in his right front wheel coming free at the challenging Tower bend. Despite this dramatic moment, Menu maintained control of the Mondeo and managed to return the car to the pits relatively unscathed. "I thought I had a puncture", said the Swiss ace, "but it became much worse. I then realised I had lost my right front wheel."
Menu's exit was shortly followed by teammate Anthony Reid, who had been disappointed to qualify in only eleventh place, and made a particularly spectacular start in his climb through the top ten. On the sixth lap, however, Reid was called in to the pits as the car's steering began to cause some concern. On inspection of the steering rack it was decided he should retire.
Reid bounced back for round 14 to score a hard-earned tenth place finish despite starting from 13th position on the grid, his lowest of the season. As well as taking a point for leading the race during the period for mandatory pit stops, Reid enjoyed a race-long battle with Vauxhall's French driver Yvan Muller and the Honda of Dutchman Peter Kox. Opportunity knocked when Kox ran wide at the hairpin following an overtaking bid by Muller near the end of the race, but Reid was ultimately outdragged to the finish line to finish in tenth position.
Said Reid, "After the team solved the steering problem, the car felt much better this afternoon, but towards the end of the race I was losing grip so I eased off to make sure I finished. Although this has been a disappointing weekend, I feel I have got to grips with the car this weekend."
Still more was expected when Menu started round 14 from an encouraging sixth from the grid, but was forced to battle back from eighth after the opening skirmishes of the race. Following his mandatory pit stop, Menu struggled with a lack of grip from his new tyres, running wide in several corners before he spectacularly exited the race on lap 19 by sliding off at the Esses in sixth gear.
A disappointed Menu commented, "I was struggling with front tyre grip during the Sprint Race, so we made a few changes, but went too far the other way for the second race. I paid the price in the end as I oversteered far too much driving through the Esses and ended up in the cornfield."
Team Manager Dave Benbow commented, "It has been a very tough weekend for just two points, however, one of the points was for leading the race. The next challenge is to get a point for leading the race on the last lap."
1999 AUTO TRADER BRITISH TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP PROVISIONAL RESULTS (ROUND 13/14)
Round 13 (Sprint Race)
1 James Thompson Honda Accord 2 David Leslie Nissan Primera 3 Peter Kox Honda Accord DNF Alain Menu Ford Mondeo DNF Anthony Reid Ford Mondeo
Round 14 (Feature Race)
1 Rickard Rydell Volvo S40 2 James Thompson Honda Accord 3 Laurent Aiello Nissan Primera 10 Anthony Reid Ford Mondeo DNF Alain Menu Ford Mondeo
Drivers Championship Total Manufacturers Total 1. Laurent Aiello 141 1. Nissan 277 2. James Thompson 118 2. Honda 176 3. David Leslie 107 3. Renault 135 11. Anthony Reid 41 6. Ford 82 13. Alain Menu 39