MENU WINS RAC TOURIST TROPHY
Alain Menu left Donington Park UKpounds25,000 richer this afternoon (Sun) and with his name inscribed once more on one of the world's most famous motor sporting trophies. Menu's victory for Renault in the 55th running of the RAC Tourist Trophy was his second consecutive win in the historic event.
He led home team-mate Jason Plato for a Renault 1-2, with Rickard Rydell taking third place for Volvo.
Recently crowned Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Champion Menu started from pole position after an impressive performance in the qualifying heats, fighting through from the back of the grid in heat one to snatch fourth place, and leading the second heat all the way from pole position to chequered flag. Rydell (third and fifth in respective heats) claimed second on the grid for Volvo, ahead of David Leslie's Nissan and the Audi A4 quattro of '96 BTCC champion Frank Biela. Missing from the TT final grid was the Honda Accord of Kiwi superbike ace Aaron Slight, who crashed heavily but without injury in the first heat.
Swiss star Menu led every lap of the final, but nearly lost top slot on the first lap to the fast-starting Nissan of Leslie, with Biela coming off worst in a three-abreast charge through the Craner Curves. Plato made a good start also to slot into third behind Menu and Leslie, with Rydell fourth from the Audis of John Bintcliffe and Biela.
Menu eased out a three-second lead over Leslie by the 18th lap, with Plato an ever-present threat in the Nissan man's mirrors. Plato found a way past Leslie three laps from the flag - unfortunately in the process nudging the Nissan into the gravel trap at McLeans corner.
Menu was three seconds ahead of Plato at the chequer, with Rydell third from Biela in what was the four-wheel-drive Audi's last UK appearance. French ace Yvan Muller was right in Biela's wheeltracks in his two- wheel-drive Audi, with Anthony Reid sixth to salvage something for the Nissan team.
55th RAC Tourist Trophy Donington Park National, 19/10/97, 25 laps/48.93 miles 1 Alain Menu Switz Renault Laguna 30m 09.206s 97.36mph 2 Jason Plato GB Renault Laguna +2.907s 3 Rickard Rydell Swe Volvo S40 +5.236s 4 Frank Biela Ger Audi A4 quattro +13.578s 5 Yvan Muller F Audi A4 +16.769s 6 Anthony Reid GB Nissan Primera +20.263s 7 Will Hoy GB Ford Mondeo +25.551s 8 Armin Hahne Ger Volvo S40 +29.060s 9 John Bintcliffe GB Audi A4 quattro +29.396s 10 Kris Nissen DK Audi A4 quattro +36.209s Fastest lap: Menu, 1m 11.418s, 98.66mph (record)