NEWS FROM THE AUTO TRADER RAC TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP Thruxton, 04/05/96 CHAMPIONSHIP leaders Frank Biela and Audi enjoyed a day of mixed fortunes at Thruxton today (Saty) in official qualifying for Monday's rounds five and six of the Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship.
For although Biela recorded the fastest ever lap of the Hampshire circuit -- at an average speed of more than 110mph -- in the day's first qualifying session, he crashed out of the second session before he had set a meaningful time. Thus the 31-year-old German will start Monday's round five of the series from pole position but will be at the back of the grid for round six.
Biela's crash came at the ultra-fast Campbell corner on what is the quickest circuit on the BTCC calendar. It is believed he lost control of his Audi A4 on oil dropped by the car of his team-mate, John Bintcliffe, which had blown an engine. Biela destroyed a wall and badly damaged his car, but was unhurt. 'It was a big impact,' said Biela. 'I feel sure there was oil on the track.' The Audi team believes the car is repairable before Monday's twin races. Another driver in trouble was Nissan's Gary Ayles, who crashed heavily at the Thruxton chicane. He too was unhurt.
Jo Winkelhock was quickest for BMW in qualifying for round six, with Renault's Alain Menu second quickest in both sessions.
Official qualifying: Round 5 1 Frank Biela (Ger), Audi A4, 1m 16.676s, 110.61mph / 178.01kmh; 2 Alain Menu (Switz), Renault Laguna, 1m 16.996s; 3 Jo Winkelhock (Ger), BMW 320i, 1m 17.099s; 4 John Bintcliffe (GB), Audi A4, 1m 17.703s; 5 David Leslie (GB), Honda Accord, 1m 17.783s; 6 Roberto Ravaglia (It), BMW 320i, 1m 17.921s; 7 John Cleland (GB), Vauxhall Vectra, 1m 17.922s; 8 Will Hoy (GB), Renault Laguna, 1m 17.947s; 9 Rickard Rydell (Swe), Volvo 850, 1m 17.977s; 10 Kelvin Burt (GB), Volvo 850, 1m 18.111s. Official qualifying: Round 6 1 Winkelhock, 1m 16.820s, 110.40mph / 177.681kmh 2 Menu, 1m 17.077s; 3 Ravaglia, 1m 17.161s; 4 Burt, 1m 17.290s; 5 Hoy, 1m 17.342s; 6 Rydell, 1m 17.561s; 7 Leslie, 1m 17.617s; 8 Cleland, 1m 17.678s; 9 Tim Harvey (GB), Peugeot 406, 1m 17.807s; 10 Bintcliffe, 1m 17.888s.
-- Official BTCC website: Best in British Motor Sport http://www.demon.co.uk/racing