NEWS FROM THE AUTO TRADER RAC TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP Thruxton, 22/8/96 Renault's Alain Menu topped the timesheets in official testing this afternoon (Thurs) at Thruxton in preparation for Bank Holiday Monday's twin rounds of the Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship.
The Swiss ace lapped the Hampshire circuit in 1m 17.660s -- just under the official lap record. Honda's David Leslie was second fastest, just five-hundredths of a second slower. Less than half a second covered the top eight runners, and Monday's races, rounds 21 and 22 of the UK's top motor sport series, promises to be exceptionally close.
Champion elect Frank Biela failed to make the top six in his Audi A4, but it is unlikely to worry him -- he needs to score just 16 points from Monday's races to ensure that he can't be beaten for the drivers' championship crown.
Notable performances today included 12th position for BMW's 'third man', Peter Kox -- the Dutchman will race alongside team-mates Jo Winkelhock and Roberto Ravaglia for the first time on Monday -- and 11th spot for Gary Ayles in the revitalised Nissan.
There's further testing at Thruxton tomorrow (Fri), followed by official qualifying on Saturday prior to Monday's double-header. OFFICIAL TESTING TIMES THRUXTON, 22/8/96 1 Alain Menu (Switz), Renault Laguna, 1m 17.660s, 109.21mph; 2 David Leslie (GB), Honda Accord, 1:17.716; 3 Roberto Ravaglia (It), BMW 320i, 1:17.802; 4 Will Hoy (GB), Renault Laguna, 1:17.922; 5 Jo Winkelhock (Ger), BMW 320i, 1:17.986; 6 James Kaye (GB), Honda Accord, 1:18.052; 7 Frank Biela (Ger), Audi A4, 1:18.073; 8 James Thompson (GB), Vauxhall Vectra, 1:18.139; 9 Rickard Rydell (Swe), Volvo 850, 1:18.325; 10 John Cleland (GB), Vauxhall Vectra, 1:18.347; 11 Gary Ayles (GB), Nissan Primera, 1:18.414; 12 Peter Kox (Neth), BMW 320i, 1:18.451.
-- Official BTCC website: Best in British Motor Sport http://www.demon.co.uk/racing