NEWS FROM THE AUTO TRADER RAC BRITISH TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP Oulton Park, Cheshire, 29/05/95
RYDELL AND MENU WIN AT OULTON PARK Swede Rickard Rydell left Oulton Park this afternoon (Monday) still leading the Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship, collecting a win for Volvo in round nine of the championship and second place behind Renault's Alain Menu in the 10th round.
Rydell, with three wins under his belt already this season, now enjoys a 20-point lead over Swiss driver Menu in the championship, with Britain's John Cleland (Vauxhall) third overall.
The red flags were flying within moments of the start of round nine. First incident involved the cars of pole position man James Thompson (Vauxhall) and Kelvin Burt (Ford); Burt made the better start and attempted to force his way between Thompson and Rydell on the run down to the first corner. Thompson spun across the track --miraculously without triggering a major pile-up -- while Burt limped into retirement.
The crash which halted the race came when beleaguered former Grand Prix star Derek Warwick's Alfa touched the Honda of David Leslie on the approach to Island Bend at around 130mph. Both cars struck the barriers, Warwick's with sufficient force to knock him briefly unconscious. He was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure. Neither Warwick nor Leslie was able to make the restarted round nine, nor the second race of the afternoon.
Thompson's car was repaired in time, but he was forced to start from the back of the grid rather than his rightful pole position. Championship leader Rydell seized the initiative immediately, chased by Cleland, the Paul Radisich (Ford) and Menu.
Radisich tried to out manoeuvre Cleland for second position on the second lap, their cars touched and, in the confusion, the Kiwi found himself demoted to fourth.
Fourth place became jinxed -- Radisich retired soon afterwards with a broken wheel; Will Hoy's tenure of the position was short lived through engine failure in his Renault, and Tim Sugden then crashed his Toyota out of fourth.
The top trio -- Rydell, Cleland and Menu -- ran like a train for the remaining laps, never more than a car's length apart, and finished with just 2.11s covering them. Jul ian Bailey (Toyota) inherited fourth -- and held on to it -- to finish ahead of Giampiero Simoni, recording Alfa Romeo's best finish of the season, and Thompson, who put in the drive of the race from the tail of the field. Reigning Champion Gabriele Tarquini, making his first appearance of the year for Alfa, could manage no higher than 11th.
Menu, who lined up alongside pole man Rydell in round 10, made the better start of the duo to lead the Volvo man into the first corner. Burt made up for his early disappointment in the previous race by making a storming start from the third row of the grid to take third place ahead of the two Vauxhalls.
It took Cleland six laps to find an answer to Burt's initial speed and, by the time the Scot had taken him for third, Cleland found Menu and Rydell too far up the road to be able to do much about. That didn't stop him trying, however, and he was just 2.6s adrift at the chequered flag.
Menu had his mirrors full of Rydell's Volvo all the way, but never put a wheel wrong as he sped to his and Renault's second victory of the year.
Thompson was fourth for Vauxhall, ahead of Radisich and Burt, whose early pace was hobbled by a cracked exhaust. Tim Harvey finished seventh on the road for Volvo but was given a 10-second penalty for missing a chicane, dropping him to 15th.
The Total Cup privateers battle was decided in the favour of Nigel Smith (Vauxhall) in round nine and Matt Neal (Ford) in the 10th.
RESULTS 1995 Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship, round 9 Oulton Park -- 29/05/95 13 laps -- 36.01 miles 1 Rickard Rydell (Swe), Volvo 850 20v, 22m 39.09s, 95.55mph; 2 John Cleland (GB), Vauxhall Cavalier 16V, +0.52s; 3 Alain Menu (Switz), Renault Laguna, +2.11s; 4 Jul ian Bailey (GB), Toyota Carina E, +9.91s; 5 Giampiero Simoni (It), Alfa Romeo 155, +12.75s; 6 James Thompson (GB), Vauxhall Cavalier 16V, +13.25s; 7 Simon Harrison (GB), Peugeot 405, +14.34s; 8 Tim Harvey (GB), Volvo 850 20v, +17.00s; 9 Johnny Cecotto (Venezuela), BMW 318i, +17.51s; 10 David Brabham (AUS), BMW 318i, +21.24s. Total Cup Privateers: Nigel Smith (GB), Vauxhall Cavalier Fastest lap: Menu, 1m 43.61s, 96.41mph Pole position: Thompson, 1m 42.186s, 97.76mph.
Round 10 16 laps -- 44.32 miles 1 Menu, 27m 47.01s, 95.88mph; 2 Rydell, +1.83s; 3 Cleland, +2.64s; 4 Thompson, +15.B9s; 5 Paul Radisich (NZ), Ford Mondeo Ghia, +18.07s; 6 Kelvin Burt (GB), Ford Mondeo Ghia, +20.62s; 7 Simoni, +25.51s; 8 Brabham, +25.70s; 9 Bailey, +23.46s; 10 James Kaye (GB), Honda Accord, +33.58s. Total Cup Privateers: Matthew Neal (GB), Ford Mondeo. Fastest lap: Menu, 1m 43.07s, 96.92mph. Pole position: Rydell, 1m 42.626s, 97.34mph.
Championship positions Drivers: 1 Rydell, 142 points; 2 Menu, 122; 3 Cleland, 118; 4 Radisich, 92; 5 Harvey, 86; 6 Thompson, 76.
Manufacturers: 1 Volvo, 179; 2 Vauxhall, 154; 3 Renault, 146; 4 Ford, 116; 5 BMW, 67; 6 Toyota, 62. Total Cup Privateers: 1 Neal, 198; 2 Smith, 144.
Next round: Brands Hatch, 11/06/95.
Stephen M Baines