BTCC: Silverstone report

NEWS FROM THE AUTO TRADER RAC TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP Silverstone 19/5/96 A PAIR of thrilling rounds of the Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship at Silverstone this afternoon (Sun) saw victories for both Volvo, courtesy Kelvin...

NEWS FROM THE AUTO TRADER RAC TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP Silverstone 19/5/96 A PAIR of thrilling rounds of the Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship at Silverstone this afternoon (Sun) saw victories for both Volvo, courtesy Kelvin Burt, and championship leaders Audi and Frank Biela. Burt beat the BMW of Roberto Ravaglia in round seven to claim a hard-earned first '96 victory for a two-wheel-drive car, while Biela made the best of his car's four-wheel drive to win round eight in tricky damp conditions. As a result, German ace Biela extends his championship lead to 36 points, with Ravaglia moving up to second spot in the championship. Round seven looked like it was going to be a BMW benefit, with Ravaglia making the most of his first BTCC pole position to open a handsome lead on the opening lap -- the former World Touring Car Champion headed the fast-starting Burt by a second and a half. But Burt quickly got back on terms with the Venetian, narrowing the gap to 0.5sec by mid-distance. Time and again the Volvo driver pulled alongside Ravaglia only to have his manoeuvre rebuffed. He came close to snatching the lead on lap 12 with a brave move at Priory, but was forced to abandon his charge as the yellow warning flags were brought out to warn of a spin from Ravaglia's BMW team-mate Jo Winkelhock. Four laps later, however, Burt dived down the BMW's inside at Priory and scrabbled ahead. Ravaglia fought back, but admitted later that he was suffering from understeer and a down-on-power engine. Twenty-eight-year-old Burt pulled out a sixth-tenths of a second advantage over the Italian at the chequered flag as he collected the Volvo team's first win of the 1996 season, the second victory of his career and the first for a British driver this year. Said Burt: 'This is a breakthrough for us. We have had bad luck and accidents this year but the potential has always been there. This is the first time I have really hit the spot.' Third place was held throughout by David Leslie, scoring Honda's first podium placing of the season, despite intense, race-long pressure from Burt's Volvo team-mate Rickard Rydell. Alain Menu was fifth for Renault, ahead of James Thompson's Vauxhall and John Bintcliffe's Audi. Biela endured a troubled race in his Audi: he started ninth after qualifying problems and slipped to 11th in the race -- his first no-score of the season. Biela complained of a lack of power. The Total Cup Privateers' tussle was won by Richard Kaye (Vauxhall), who battled past his rivals from the back of the grid after failing to record a qualifying time yesterday. If round seven had kept the spectators at Silverstone's new International circuit enthralled, then round eight was to prove even more spectacular, mid-race showers favouring those that had started on 'intermediate' wet/dry tyres, notably Ravaglia. Biela made a storming start from the pole to lead Menu on the opening lap, but behind there was chaos as Burt spun off at Becketts, delaying the pursuing pack, headed by reigning champion John Cleland's Vauxhall. Then the safety car was brought out for two laps as Burt's car was recovered, allowing Menu a chance to close the gap on Biela. As they crossed the line on the next racing lap, Menu charged down the inside of Biela into Copse Corner to wrest the lead from the Audi man. Menu's tenure of the lead was short-lived, however: next time around Biela dived inside the Renault under braking for Priory to regain the lead. Winkelhock lifted second place from Menu on lap eight and set about closing the gap on Biela. But by lap 11 the showers were staring to fall right around the track and Winkelhock spun second place away at Priory. All eyes then fell on Ravaglia, who had fallen as far back as 12th before the rain. Within three laps the Italian was through to sixth as the slick-shod runners slipped and slid their way around the track. On lap 16 the BMW man moved up behind Menu for fourth and, on the following tour, passed both the Renault and Bintcliffe's Audi to claim second. Ravaglia set about closing the gap between himself and Biela, whittling it down to less than a second as the chequered flag fell. Bintcliffe held on for third ahead of Menu, Rydell and Thompson. Richard Kaye was again the Total Cup victor after a race-long battle with Lee Brookes's Toyota. Among the casualties of round eight were Cleland and Patrick Watts (Peugeot), who tangled at Copse while disputing sixth place. Both cars spun into the gravel. Tim Harvey (Peugeot) and Will Hoy (Renault) also spun out. RESULTS Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship, round 7 20 laps -- 44.30 miles / 71.28km 1 Kelvin Burt (GB), Volvo 850, 29m 22.40s, 90.35mph / 145.40kmh; 2 Roberto Ravaglia (It), BMW 320i, +0.66s; 3 David Leslie (GB), Honda Accord, +5.14s; 4 Rickard Rydell (Swe), Volvo 850, +6.52s; 5 Alain Menu (Switz), Renault Laguna, +7.41s; 6 James Thompson (GB), Vauxhall Vectra, +15.42s; 7 John Bintcliffe (GB), Audi A4, +17.87s; 8 Will Hoy (GB), Renault Laguna, +18.30s; 9 James Kaye (GB), Honda Accord, +18.97s; 10 John Cleland (GB), Vauxhall Vectra, +20.23s. Total Cup Privateers: Richard Kaye (GB), Vauxhall Cavalier, +36.99s. Fastest lap: Burt, 1m 26.77s, 91.89mph / 147.89kmh (establishes record). Pole position: Ravaglia, 1m 25.139s, 93.65mph / 150.72kmh. Round 8 22 laps -- 48.62 miles / 78.23 km 1 Biela, 37m 05.75s, 78.87mph / 126.93kmh; 2 Ravaglia, +2.32s; 3 Bintcliffe, +15.01s; 4 Menu, +25.63s; 5 Rydell, +49.85s; 6 Thompson, +50.19s; 7 Paul Radisich (NZ), Ford Mondeo, +50.47s; 8 James Kaye, +53.01s; 9 Leslie, +54.12s; 10 Richard Kaye, +1m 07.95s. Total Cup Privateers: Richard Kaye. Fastest lap: Jo Winkelhock (Ger), BMW 320i, 1m 28.21s, 90.39mph / 145.48kmh. Pole position: Biela, 1m 34.057s, 84.77mph / 136.43kmh. CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS Drivers: 1 Biela, 96 points; 2 Ravaglia, 60; 3 Rydell, 56; =4 Menu & Bintcliffe, 49; 6 Winkelhock, 45. Manufacturers: 1 Audi, 100; 2 BMW, 82; 3 Volvo, 79; 4 Renault, 78; 5 Vauxhall, 59; 6 Honda, 41; 7 Peugeot, 25; 8 Ford, 21 Total Cup Privateers: 1 Lee Brookes (GB), Toyota Carina E, 88; 2 Richard Kaye, 85. -- Official BTCC website: Best in British Motor Sport http://www.demon.co.uk/racing

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