After the Audi four-wheel-drive domination of last weekend's Knockhill double header, it was back to business as usual for the front-wheel-drive runners in the Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship at Snetterton this afternoon (Thurs). In first official testing for Sunday's 17th and 18th rounds of the series, Honda's James Thompson topped the timesheets, the only driver able to beat the 1m 10s barrier at the Norfolk circuit.

Nissan's David Leslie ran Thompson closest, with the revitalised Ford Mondeos of 1991 champion Will Hoy and Kiwi World Cup-winner Paul Radisich setting third and fourth-best times. Said Hoy: "The car is working very well here and the team is calmly getting the job done. Hopefully we can keep this up throughout the weekend..."

Champion elect Alain Menu posted 11th-best time in his Renault Laguna, two-tenths of a second behind team-mate Jason Plato. John Bintcliffe, who scored his maiden BTCC victory on Sunday at Knockhill, suffered a session-interrupting crash on the approach to the Russell chicane, badly damaging his Audi but stepping uninjured from the wreckage. Neither Bintcliffe nor team-mate Frank Biela was able to break into today's top 12. A good performance from Menu this weekend will secure for him the Auto Trader Championship drivers' crown. After 10 race victories this season the Oxfordshire-based Swiss star enjoys a 103-point title race lead over reigning champion Biela; the crown will be Menu's at Snetterton so long as he leaves Norfolk with an advantage of more than 97 points. There is further official testing at Snetterton tomorrow (Fri); official qualifying takes place on Saturday, with rounds 17 and 18 of the Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship scheduled for Sunday afternoon. Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship Official testing, Snetterton, 7/8/97 1 James Thompson (GB), Honda Accord, 1m 09.993s, 100.39mph; 2 David Leslie (GB), Nissan Primera, 1m 10.107s; 3 Will Hoy (GB), Ford Mondeo, 1m 10.170s; 4 Paul Radisich (NZ), Ford Mondeo, 1m 10.209s; 5 Anthony Reid (GB), Nissan Primera, 1m 10.232s