NEWS FROM THE AUTO TRADER RAC TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP, 12/3/97 FIRST blood in the 1997 Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship has gone to 1994 champion Gabriele Tarquini, who topped the timesheets at Donington Park this afternoon (Weds) in the first official test session of the season.
The 35-year-old Italian, who is returning after a year's break from the BTCC, was more than half a second inside the circuit lap record, posting a time of 1m 36.577s in his Honda Accord. Said Tarquini: ''I am very pleased because the car is fresh from the factory. I need some more miles in the car to feel really comfortable...''
The new Volvo S40 gave notice of its threat to the established front- runners, with team-mates Rickard Rydell and Kelvin Burt posting second- and third-quickest times today. Rydell -- a winner at Donington last September -- was just a tenth of a second slower than Tarquini. Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship Official testing, Donington Park 12/3/97 1 Gabriele Tarquini (It), Honda Accord, 1m 36.577s; 2 Rickard Rydell (Swe), Volvo S40, 1m 36.689s; 3 Kelvin Burt (GB), Volvo S40, 1m 36.765s; etc
------ BTCC 97 www.demon.co.uk/racing/