BTCC: Silverstone Saturday report

NEWS FROM THE AUTO TRADER RAC TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP Silverstone, 13/07/96 FORMER World Touring Car Champion Roberto Ravaglia notched up his maiden Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship victory at Silverstone this afternoon (Saturday).

NEWS FROM THE AUTO TRADER RAC TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP Silverstone, 13/07/96 FORMER World Touring Car Champion Roberto Ravaglia notched up his maiden Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship victory at Silverstone this afternoon (Saturday). The virtuoso Venetian's BMW crossed the line less than two-tenths of a second ahead of Rickard Rydell's Volvo after a race-long duel for the lead. Frank Biela finished third for Audi to extend his championship lead. Ravaglia -- the seventh different winner this season -- won the race on the startline as he blasted past pole position man David Leslie's Honda on the run down to the first corner, Copse. Leslie pursued the BMW closely for the opening lap until Luffield corner, when a nudge from Rydell sent the Scot wide and down to fourth place, behind Biela. The BTCC stewards met after the race to investigate the controversial incident.

Rydell and Biela chased Ravaglia for the duration of the race; the Volvo man's best chance of snatching the lead came on lap 12, when Ravaglia hit a kerb at Copse and was momentarily slowed. The BMW man fought back, however, and though he was never more than 0.4s behind at any time, Rydell had to settle for second best.

Said Ravaglia: 'Now I can retire -- I have finally won a BTCC race! It wasn't easy, it was very close all the way.'

Biela's third -- from seventh on the grid -- gives his championship hopes a major boost. His nearest title rival, Renault's Alain Menu, was a subdued sixth, behind Ravaglia's BMW team-mate Jo Winkelhock, and Biela now enjoys a 49-point advantage.

Seventh was Kelvin Burt in the second Volvo, ahead of James Thompson (Vauxhall), who profited from a last-lap clash between Will Hoy (Renault) and reigning champion John Cleland (Vauxhall). Hoy and Cleland rejoined to finish ninth and 10th respectively.

A fuming Leslie said after the race: 'Rydell's first-lap move was totally ridiculous. I had already got alongside Ravaglia and I'm sure I would have won...' RESULTS Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship, round 15 15 laps -- 47.33 miles / 76.16km 1 Roberto Ravaglia (It), BMW 320i, 30m 01.86s, 94.46mph/152.02kmh; 2 Rickard Rydell (Swe), Volvo 850, +0.19s; 3 Frank Biela (Ger), Audi A4, +1.51s; 4 David Leslie (GB), Honda Accord, +2.31s; 5 Jo Winkelhock (Ger), BMW 320i, +2.99s; 6 Alain Menu (Switz), Renault Laguna, +4.04s; 7 Kelvin Burt (GB), Volvo 850, +10.33s; 8 James Thompson (GB), Vauxhall Vectra, +13.87s; 9 Will Hoy (GB), Renault Laguna, +15.41s; 10 John Cleland (GB), Vauxhall Vectra, +19.84s. Total Cup Privateers: Richard Kaye (GB), Vauxhall Cavalier. Fastest lap: Biela, 1m 58.57s, 95.70mph/154.01kmh (record). CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS Drivers: 1 Biela, 159 points; 2 Menu, 110; 3 Rydell, 107; 4 Winkelhock, 106; 5 Ravaglia, 87; 6 John Bintcliffe (GB/Audi), 79. Manufacturers: 1 Audi, 169; 2 BMW, 161; 3 Renault, 148; 4 Volvo, 142; 5 Vauxhall, 113; 6 Honda, 85; 7 Peugeot, 51; 8 Ford, 44. Total Cup Privateers: 1 Lee Brookes (GB/Toyota), 178; 2 Kaye, 170.

* DAVID LESLIE will start tomorrow's round 16 of the Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship from pole position, having outpaced rivals Biela and Rydell in yesterday's (Fri) qualifying session. The Honda man set a 1m 55.977s lap time, three-tenths of a second quicker than Biela's mark. The race will be Silverstone's Grand Prix meeting curtain call tomorrow afternoon. TOP TIMES 1 Leslie, 1m 55.977s, 97.84mph; 2 Biela, 1:56.298; 3 Rydell, 1:56.338; 4 Ravaglia, 1:56.433; 5 Menu, 1:56.517. -- Official BTCC website: Best in British Motor Sport http://www.demon.co.uk/racing

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