NEWS FROM THE AUTO TRADER RAC TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP, 22/8/97 Newly crowned Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Champion Alain Menu this afternoon (Fri) smashed the record for the fastest-ever touring car qualifying lap of a British circuit. The Swiss Renault team leader set a searing pace at the ultra-quick Thruxton track in Hampshire in final official testing for Bank Holiday Monday's twin rounds of the Auto Trader Championship.
Thirty-four-year-old Menu and his Williams-run Renault Laguna set a 1m 16.104s mark -- four-tenths of a second inside his own Thruxton record, set in April -- an average speed of 111.44mph. Menu, who claimed the Auto Trader Championship drivers' title a fortnight ago at Snetterton, will on Monday bid to clinch the manufacturers' championship for Renault and the teams' prize for Williams.
But he will face stiff opposition from several rivals, not least Honda's young charger James Thompson, who came within two-tenths of Menu's best time today, and Audi's Frank Biela, third fastest today and a Thruxton victor in April. Official qualifying for rounds 19 and 20 of the Auto Trader Championship takes place at Thruxton tomorrow (Sat), with the twin races and a full support race programme scheduled for Bank Holiday Monday. Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship Official testing, Thruxton, 22/8/97 1 Alain Menu (Switz), Renault Laguna, 1m 16.104s, 111.44mph; 2 James Thompson (GB), Honda Accord, 1m 16.269s; 3 Frank Biela (Ger), Audi A4, 1m 16.697s; 4 Rickard Rydell (Swe), Volvo S40, 1m 16.845s; 5 Gabriele Tarquini (It), Honda Accord, 1m 16.871s