TWO PODIUMS FOR CLELAND AT OULTON PARK THOMPSON CHARGES TO 6TH FROM HACK OF GRID
John Cleland took his Mobil 1-backed Vauxhall Cavalier to second and third places in rounds 9 & 10 of the Auto Trader British Touring Car Championship to maintain his challenge for the Championship.
Young team-mate James Thompson's hopes were thwarted at the start of round 9 when the pole position holder was hit on the approach Lo the first turn. A race stoppage for other Incidents allowed him to start from the back of the grid from where he stormed through to 6th place. He was 4th in round 10.
"Someone tried to come between me and other front row man Rydell, and I was almost turned round," explained Thompson. "It was only because Rydell hit me straight again that I didn't spin in front Of the pack."
The combined damage from the initial hit and the contact with Rydell was repaired in the pits, but the 21-year-old
Yorkshireman was forced to start from the back of the grid. "Starting from the back was a nightmare, but I just did the best I could. The car didn't have what I would call a perfect balance!"
After moving up to 11th on the first lap, Thompson moved up to a fantastic sixth at the finish. "That just shows what we might have achieved if we had been able to capitalise on our: pole position."
While Thompson was battling his way from the back, 42-year-old Scot Cleland was in the thick of the battle for the lead. Having slotted into second, Cleland harried race leader Rickard Rydell all the way to the flag- "I was quicker in the early stages but I just couldn't get past, the Volvo is a very wide car and Rickard drove very well, but it was a good clean battle between us and Alain Menu," commented Cleland-
It was a similar story in round 10, as Cleland and Thompson fought to get past slower cars. "Kelvin Burt got ahead at the first corner and it took me too many laps to get past. I closed on Rydell but it was too late," explained Cleland.
After following his team leader for most of the race, Thompson dropped back in the closing stages, but still finished 4th: "I could see a lot of smoke coming from the back of the car, and not knowing whether it was tyre or oil smoke I slowed right down, kept it off the kerbs and cut the revs. I just wanted to make sure I got some more points."
"It's a great tribute to my mechanics and the workers back at our Milton Keynes base that I was able to compete at all this weekend." Thompson had crashed in Friday's test day, and the team had worked all night and all day Saturday in order to get the car back to Oulton Park.
Championship Points Drivers: Rydell 142, Menu 122, CLELAND 118, Radisich 92, Harvey 86, Thompson 76
Manufacturers; Volvo 179, VAUXHALL 154, Renault 146 -- Stephen M Baines
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