BTCC: Thruxton Ford report

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1998 Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship Rounds 17&18, Thruxton, Hampshire - Sunday August 2 1998 High speed drama for Ford Mondeo Racing at Thruxton o Baird walks away from 147kph accident o Hoy recovers from puncture on...

1998 Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship Rounds 17&18, Thruxton, Hampshire - Sunday August 2 1998

High speed drama for Ford Mondeo Racing at Thruxton

o Baird walks away from 147kph accident o Hoy recovers from puncture on BTCC's fastest circuit o Ford Mondeo Racing team faces major repair challenge

Ford Mondeo Racing's Craig Baird came down with a bump from recording his best BTCC result to date at Snetterton last weekend, when he walked away from an enormous opening lap accident in round 17 of the Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton.

After a difficult qualifying session, the New Zealander started the Sprint Race from the last row of the grid, but didn't get past the first corner, as he was spun and pitched backwards into the tyre wall, his Ford Mondeo leaving the circuit at a recorded 147kph onto an impact in excess of 6g. But the Mondeo proved its strength, allowing Baird to walk away without injury.

"It was a big one", confirmed the Kiwi a little later, "but I'm fine. I just hope the guys can repair it."

The team decided not to attempt repairing the badly damaged Mondeo for the day's second race, preferring instead to recover the car to their HQ. "We have to take it back and properly assess the damage", explained Ford Mondeo Racing team principal Dick Bennetts. "It will have to go on the jig before we can be completely sure the shell or roll cage has not been compromised."

This left Will Hoy carrying Ford's hopes for points in both races, the former BTCC champion making the most of lowly grid positions to come home 10th and 12th, having to recover from a high speed puncture in the second race, which lost him the competitive position he had fought for in the opening laps.

"My start was good in both races and I was quicker than most through the slower corners, particularly the complex", commented Hoy. "I got held up by Plato in the first race, then in the second race I got a puncture coming out of Goodwood and the tyre deflated almost instantly, so I had to get in to the pits early. I think we called the wrong tyres, because then I had an imbalance, which gave me big oversteer in the fast corners.

"I'm looking forward to Knockhill and Brands, because they're much tighter, shorter circuits, which will suit the Mondeo much more as outright speed is less of an issue."

Having worked hard in the three day break between Snetterton and Thruxton to resolve a straight-line speed problem, the team now faces a major repair task before travelling North of the border, for the Championship's annual visit to Knockhill circuit in Fife, Scotland.

"It's a lot of work", summarised Dick Bennetts. "We've done an initial inspection of the damage, but we have much more to do before we go to Knockhill. We know Thruxton, with its high average speeds and fast corners, is not the best for the Mondeo, but it's very disappointing to come away without a good result and difficult for Craig to have to miss a race like this. Knockhill, but especially Brands, should be better for us."

Ford Mondeo Racing is back in action for rounds 19 & 20 of the Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship, at Knockhill Circuit in two weeks time, on August 15/16.

Race Statistics

Round 17 (Sprint Race) Will Hoy 10th Craig Baird DNF Winner Anthony Reid (Nissan) Round 18 (Feature Race) Will Hoy 12th Craig Baird DNS Winner Alain Menu (Renault)

Championship Points Drivers' Championship Rickard Rydell (Volvo) 1st 186 points Will Hoy (Ford) 10th 52 points Nigel Mansell (Ford) 16th 7 points Craig Baird (Ford) 18th 6 points Teams' Championship Williams Racing 1st 122 points Ford Mondeo Racing 7th 36 points Manufacturers' Championship Nissan 1st 199 points Ford Motor Company 7th 92 points

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