NEWS FROM THE AUTO TRADER RAC TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP Oulton Park 27/5/96 BMW and Volvo edged out the Audi team at Oulton Park this afternoon (Mon) to take victory in rounds nine and 10 of the Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship. It was the first time this season that Audi and championship leader Frank Biela have come away from a BTCC meeting without at least one win under their belts.
Jo Winkelhock won round nine for BMW after stealing the lead from Biela, with Rickard Rydell repeating the trick in his Volvo in round 10. The day's first race was brought to a premature halt after a violent crash involving Rydell's Volvo team-mate Kelvin Burt. The ninth round saw drama even before the start as Audi mechanics struggled to complete the car of number two driver John Bintcliffe after it had suffered damage in a warm-up session crash. Then the power steering system of James Thompson's Vauxhall failed moments before the green lights and the hapless Vectra driver was pushed away from his fifth-place grid slot. As the Audi of championship leader Biela sped into the lead from pole position, a first-corner crash further down the field involving the cars of Will Hoy (Renault), Paul Radisich (Ford) and Tim Harvey (Peugeot) saw all three sidelined -- none of the drivers was injured. The Safety Car was brought into play for a lap while the debris was cleared and, at the restart, third-placed Winkelhock leapfrogged Bintcliffe to snatch second into Old Hall. By the Chicane that same lap the 1993 Champion had closed on Biela too, and made a brave manoeuvre to wrest the lead from the Audi. Once past the four-wheel-drive car -- now carrying an extra 30kg weight penalty -- Winkelhock stormed into a handsome lead, smashing the circuit lap record twice as he went. Biela and Bintcliffe trailed the BMW to collect second and third places respectively. The battle for fourth was between Rickard Rydell (Volvo), Alain Menu (Renault) and Burt, and culminated in Burt's lap 12 100mph collision at Cascades, which brought out the red flags to halt the race. The results were declared final after 11 laps. Burt was unconscious as marshals cut him free from the wreckage of his Volvo, but regained consciousness after 15 minutes. He was evacuated to Chester Hospital as a precautionary measure, suffering from severe concussion. It's believed he was saved from more serious injury in the 7g impact by the Volvo 'survival cell', developed to meet strict safety rules imposed by championship organiser TOCA. Round 10 saw a repeat performance by Biela as he sped into the lead from the pole, pursued by Bintcliffe after an excellent start from fourth on the grid, ahead of Winkelhock, Rydell and Menu. An ambitious overtaking manoeuvre on Bintcliffe by Winkelhock at the chicane on lap one saw the BMW man spin into retirement.
Rydell was the next to challenge Bintcliffe, the Volvo driver managing to squeeze past the Audi at Cascades on lap three. Within three laps the Swede managed to narrow the gap between himself and Biela and, as they approached Lodge Corner, he squeezed past and into a lead he was never to lose. Biela held on for second, with Bintcliffe third after managing to keep a horde of two-wheel-drive rivals behind him all the way to the chequered flag. Menu led the train into fourth, ahead of Roberto Ravaglia (BMW), Hoy and David Leslie (Honda).
Said Rydell after his victory: 'It was nice to hear from the hospital before the race that Kelvin was OK -- it made it easier for me to concentrate. I hope Kelvin gets well soon; we need him if we are to win this championship.'
Lee Brookes (Toyota) won the Total Cup privateers' battle, avenging his defeat in round nine by Richard Kaye. After 10 rounds, Biela enjoys a 43-point lead over Rydell in the drivers' championship, with Audi 19 points clear of BMW in the manufacturers' title race. RESULTS Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship, round 9 11 laps -- 30.58 miles / 49.17km 1 Jo Winkelhock (Ger), BMW 320i, 20m 42.90s, 88.41mph/142.28kmh; 2 Frank Biela (Ger), Audi A4, +4.95s; 3 John Bintcliffe (GB), Audi A4, +5.57s; 4 Rickard Rydell (Swe), Volvo 850, +6.23s; 5 Alain Menu (Switz), Renault Laguna, +6.75s; 6 Kelvin Burt (GB), Volvo 850, +7.22s; 7 Roberto Ravaglia (It), BMW 320i, +7.61s; 8 David Leslie (GB), Honda Accord, +9.44s; 9 Richard Kaye (GB), Vauxhall Cavalier, +15.76s; 10 Steve Robertson (GB), Ford Mondeo, +20.79s. Total Cup Privateers: Kaye. Fastest lap: Winkelhock, 1m 41.96s, 97.97mph/157.68kmh (record). Pole position: Biela, 1m 51.276s, 89.77mph/144.48kmh. Round 10 16 laps -- 44.48 miles / 71.52km 1 Rydell, 27m 35.69s, 96.53mph/155.36kmh; 2 Biela, +5.98s; 3 Bintcliffe, 9.22s; 4 Menu, +9.37s; 5 Ravaglia, 9.70s; 6 Will Hoy (GB), Renault Laguna, +10.13s; 7 Leslie, +10.43s; 8 Tim Harvey (GB), Peugeot 406, 11.64s; 9 John Cleland (GB), Vauxhall Vectra, +12.20s; 10 Owen McAuley (GB), Nissan Primera, +21.67s. Total Cup Privateers: Lee Brookes (GB), Toyota Carina E, Fastest lap: Rydell, 1m 42.08s, 97.86mph/157.49kmh. Pole position: Biela, 1m 51.163s, 89.86mph/144.62kmh. CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS Drivers: 1 Biela, 122 points; 2 Rydell, 79; 3 Ravaglia, 70; 4 Bintcliffe, 69; 5 Menu, 63; 6 Winkelhock, 60. Manufacturers: 1 Audi, 124; 2 BMW, 105; 3 Volvo, 104; 4 Renault, 96; 5 Vauxhall, 63; 6 Honda, 53; 7 Peugeot, 34; 8 Ford, 29. Total Cup Privateers: 1 Brookes, 115; 2 Richard Kaye, 100.
-- Official BTCC website: Best in British Motor Sport http://www.demon.co.uk/racing