NEWS FROM THE AUTO TRADER RAC TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP, 8/8/97 THOMPSON STARS AGAIN

Honda's James Thompson upped the pace again at Snetterton this afternoon (Fri), breaking the 1minute 9 second barrier for the Norfolk track in final official testing for Sunday's twin rounds of the Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship.

Thompson was quickest in Snetterton testing yesterday also, and today bested Nissan's Anthony Reid by a 100th of a second margin, with Gabriele Tarquini next up in the second Honda and champion elect Alain Menu fourth quickest. Menu needs a couple of strong finishes this weekend to secure the Auto Trader Championship drivers' crown. After 10 race victories the Swiss ace has 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.

The Ford team maintained their pace, Kiwi Paul Radisich taking fifth slot. His team-mate Will Hoy dropped out of the top 12 when his test was interrupted by an oil fire which damaged his Mondeo. Official qualifying takes place tomorrow (Saty), 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, 8/8/97 1 James Thompson (GB), Honda Accord, 1m 08.928s, 101.94mph; 2 Anthony Reid (GB), Nissan Primera, 1m 08.938s; 3 Gabriele Tarquini (It), Honda Accord, 1m 09.010s; 4 Alain Menu (Switz), Renault Laguna, 1m 09.056s; 5 Paul Radisich (NZ), Ford Mondeo, 1m 09.193s

-- www.btcc.co.uk