NEWS FROM THE AUTO TRADER RAC TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP, 23/5/97 Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship leader Alain Menu laid down the gauntlet to his rivals at Oulton Park this afternoon (Fri) in the first of four days of...

NEWS FROM THE AUTO TRADER RAC TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP, 23/5/97

Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship leader Alain Menu laid down the gauntlet to his rivals at Oulton Park this afternoon (Fri) in the first of four days of competition at the Cheshire circuit.

In the first official test day, Swiss star Menu lopped nearly a second from reigning champion Frank Biela's qualifying lap record for the Oulton Park Fosters track, his Renault Laguna lapping in 58.910 seconds, an average speed of 101.07mph.

As expected, Menu's closest rivals were the Honda Accords of Gabriele Tarquini and James Thompson, with Jason Plato in the other Renault fourth fastest.

The Audis of Biela and his team-mate John Bintcliffe -- which had been expected to fly at Oulton following a mid-week minimum weight reduction -- were still some way off the pace, Bintcliffe setting ninth- best time and Biela going 12th quickest.

There is a further day of testing at Oulton Park tomorrow (Saty) before Sunday's official qualifying and the Bank Holiday Monday twin-race bonanza.

Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship Official testing, Oulton Park, 23/5/97 1 Alain Menu (Switz), Renault Laguna, 58.910s, 101.07mph; 2 Gabriele Tarquini (It), Honda Accord, 59.192s; 3 James Thompson (GB), Honda Accord, 59.225s; 4 Jason Plato (GB), Renault Laguna, 59.294s; 5 Rickard Rydell (Swe), Volvo S40, 59.298s;

--------- www.btcc.co.uk

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Series General
Drivers Frank Biela , James Thompson , Jason Plato , Rickard Rydell , Gabriele Tarquini , Alain Menu