News from the Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship Official testing, Thruxton, April 8


With the touchpaper to an explosive new season of Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship action well and truly lit, reigning champion Alain Menu this afternoon (Weds) established himself as the man in form, topping the timesheets in the first official test session at Thruxton.

Menu's Renault Laguna lapped the ultra-fast Hampshire circuit - which will be the scene of the BTCC's twin opening rounds on Monday (Apr 13) - in 1m 25.334s, making the best of the wet conditions to outpace his rivals by nearly half a second.

His Renault team-mate Jason Plato was second quickest, ahead of ex-Formula 1 star Derek Warwick, shining for Vauxhall at his home track. Further encouragement for the Vauxhall team came with John Cleland's fifth-best time, a tenth of a second slower than Paul Radisich's Peugeot.

There was a scare for Audi's John Bintcliffe - his A4 left the track at the Complex, sustaining light damage.

There's further testing at Thruxton tomorrow afternoon (Thurs) in preparation for Sunday's official qualifying sessions and Easter Monday's race action.

Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship Official testing / Thruxton, Hampshire / 8 April 1998 1 Alain Menu SWI Renault Laguna 1m 25.334s 99.39mph 2 Jason Plato GB Renault Laguna 1m 25.801s 3 Derek Warwick GB Vauxhall Vectra 1m 26.026s 4 Paul Radisich NZ Peugeot 406 1m 26.335s 5 John Cleland GB Vauxhall Vectra 1m 26.461s 6 Will Hoy GB Ford Mondeo 1m 26.778s 7 David Leslie GB Nissan Primera 1m 26.800s 8 Rickard Rydell SWE Volvo S40 1m 26.984s 9 Gianni Morbidelli ITA Volvo S40 1m 27.201s 10 Tim Harvey GB Peugeot 406 1m 27.310s

-- Official BTCC website