NEWS FROM THE RAC TOURIST TROPHY, DONINGTON PARK, 18/10/97
THE Renault and Nissan teams played a canny game of tactics at Donington Park this afternoon (Saty) in official qualifying for tomorrow's running of the Ukpounds25,000 RAC Tourist Trophy.
With today's qualifying times establishing the line-up for both of tomorrow's preliminary heats -- but with the second grid of the day reversed -- the top touring car teams decided that a car at each end of the timesheet was the best policy.
Thus Nissan's Anthony Reid and Renault's Jason Plato will be on the front row of the grid for the first of the heats and their respective team-mates David Leslie and Alain Menu -- slowest of all the qualifying runners today -- will be front-row men in the second heat.
Newly crowned Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Champion Menu said that going slowly at Donington was harder than trying to be as quick as possible. "That was the hardest pole position of my career," said the Swiss driver, who had to ensure that his lap time, while slow, was not more than 110 per cent of the pole position time, or he would not have qualified.
The grid for the winner-take-all Ukpound25,000 TT final will be determined by points scored in the two heats.
Among the quick runners today were Swedish Volvo ace Rickard Rydell and former BTCC champion Frank Biela, who will give the Audi A4 quattro its UK swansong. His team-mate John Bintcliffe was unable to qualify after damaging his car in free practice; he will start both heats from the back of the grid.
Newly crowned British Formula 3 Champion Jonny Kane impressed by setting fifth-best time on his Honda debut, with his team-mate, Superbike ace Aaron Slight, seventh quickest. Paula Cook was 13th for Nissan.
The Tourist Trophy is Britain's oldest race, having first been run in 1905. Past winners include Tazio Nuvolari, Graham Hill and Stirling Moss.
RAC TOURIST TROPHY - OFFICIAL QUALIFYING DONINGTON PARK, 18/10/97 1 Anthony Reid (GB), Nissan Primera, 1m 10.836s, 99.47mph; 2 Jason Plato (GB), Renault Laguna, 1m 10.851s; 3 Rickard Rydell (Swe), Volvo S40, 1m 10.991s; 4 Frank Biela (Ger), Audi A4 quattro, 1m 11.221s; 5 Jonny Kane (GB), Honda Accord, 1m 11.366s