BTCC: Opel Motorsport news 2000-09-11

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Britain - Muller takes two podiums for Vectra. Australia - Holdens defeat the Fords. Britain - Higgins wins final round for Vauxhall. South Africa - Difficult weekend for Opel. Norway - Arntsen is champion again for Opel. Germany -...

Britain - Muller takes two podiums for Vectra.

Australia - Holdens defeat the Fords.

Britain - Higgins wins final round for Vauxhall.

South Africa - Difficult weekend for Opel.

Norway - Arntsen is champion again for Opel.

Germany - Astra extends lead after Saarland Rally.

11.9.00

Britain - Muller takes two podiums for Vectra.

Yvan Muller scored a pair of podium places at Oulton Park on Sunday to move closer to third place in this year's British Touring Car Championship (BTCC). Driving the Vauxhall Motorsport Vectra, Muller enjoyed a Sprint race of opportunities to finish third ahead of team-mates Jason Plato and Vincent Radermecker, while the Feature race offered less opportunities, but saw Muller repeat the result.

Plato, the only Vectra to carry success weight ballast at these penultimate rounds of the series, qualified down the grid after a shower of rain put paid to his hopes in the special one-shot session on Saturday. He put in a charge in the Feature race after winning his Triple Eight Race Engineering team yet another Pit Stop Challenge fastest time - a stop fast enough to put him in front of Muller on the track. Then after a Safety Car period (caused when Tom Kristensen - Honda - took himself off), he slid wide in the first corner and Muller nipped through to eventually finish third. Radermecker was sidelined in the Feature race with an engine misfire.

Sprint Race (18 laps)

1 Anthony Reid Ford 29:12.221 2 Gabriele Tarquini (I) Honda 29:12.908 3 Yvan Muller (F) Vauxhall 29:23.634 4 James Thompson Honda 29:24.190 5 Alain Menu (CH) Ford 29:31.144 6 Vincent Radermecker (B) Vauxhall 29:31.640

Feature race (35 laps)

1 Gabriele Tarquini (I) Honda 54:35.541 2 Anthony Reid Ford 54:39.388 3 Yvan Muller (F) Vauxhall 54:41.849 4 Jason Plato Vauxhall 54:44.687 5 James Thompson Honda 54:45.059 6 Alain Menu (CH) Ford 54:47.820

BTCC Drivers (after 22 rounds):

1 Alain Menu (CH) Ford 193 points 2 Anthony Reid Ford 184 3 Rickard Rydell (S) Ford 165 4 Yvan Muller (F) Vauxhall 162 5 Jason Plato Vauxhall 148 6 Gabriele Tarquini (I) Honda 144

Australia - Holdens defeat the Fords.

GM/Holden's 'Team of Champions' registered a crushing defeat of all Ford challengers at the weekend's Queensland 500 endurance race, the four factory-backed teams taking all top four placings.

The Holden teams' tactical mastery and faultless driving come to the fore over the 161 lap event which saw team drivers pair up in their lead cars for the first time this year.

GM/Holden full factory team, HRT, was the best performer with drivers Craig Lowndes and Mark Skaife taking their Holden Commodore to victory half a lap clear of Holden cohorts, Garth Tander and Jason Bargwanna.

Next in line flying the Holden flag was Steven Richards (winner of the previous round) and Greg Murphy, closely followed by Russell Ingall and Larry Perkins in their Castrol Commodore. The nearest rivals from the blue oval brigade were John Bowe and Jim Richards who rounded out the top five.

With double points on offer for the round, Mark Skaife extended his championship lead for the Holden camp with Glenn Seton the only Ford driver left who - at a stretch - can possibly challenge for the year's championship title.

Race (161 laps)

1 Mark Skaife/Craig Lowndes Holden 2 Garth Tander/Jason Bargwanna Holden 3 Steven Richards/Greg Murphy Holden 4 Russell Ingall/Larry Perkins Holden 5 John Bowe/Jim Richards Holden

Australian V8 Supercars - after 10 rounds:

1 Mark Skaife Holden 1296 (points) 2 Garth Tander Holden 1107 3 Glenn Seton Ford 1049 4 Craig Lowndes Holden 1038 5 Paul Radisich Ford 927 6 Greg Murphy Holden 872

Britain - Higgins wins final round for Vauxhall.

Mark Higgins won the Manx International Rally driving the Vauxhall Motorsport Astra to victory in the final, sixth round of this year's Mobil 1 British Rally Championship. Success tasted all the more sweeter for Higgins to win in the place where he was born, on the Isle of Man. This brought his 2000 tally of wins to three, giving himself second place in the Drivers championship.

Higgins, partnered by regular co-driver Bryan Thomas, won 21 of the event's 26 high speed tarmac special stages and along with outright victory went the 2000 Champion Co-driver's title for Thomas.

Mark's team-mate, Neil Wearden started this renowned toughest round of the championship in a position to win the Driver's title, but when his Astra was sidelined on the opening stage on Thursday evening all hopes disappeared.

With Wearden out so early, all Vauxhall efforts were concentrated on Higgins.

He put his 10 years experience on the Manx event to good use in crushing Tapio Laukkanen's rally lead during the fifth special stage in the darkening hours of Thursday evening. The fight had been wrung out of the Finn, and reigning champion, in the space of just 11 miles and began Higgins' string of fastest stage times.

When Laukkanen crashed his VW out of the event early on Friday morning, the way was clear for Higgins to drive to an unchallenged victory in the Astra - a victory he consolidated to the tune of an almost five and a half minutes advantage over the Mitsubishi of Neil Simpson.

Manx International Rally:

1 Mark Higgins/Bryan Thomas Vauxhall Astra 3hr 04m 35.3s 2 Neil Simpson/Mike Gibson Mitsubishi 3:10:06.4 3 Justin Dale/Andrew Bargery Peugeot 3:14:42.3 4 Gavin Cox/Tim Hobbs Mitsubishi 3:16:49.8 5 Nik Elsmore/Jayson Brown Mitsubishi 3:19:59.1 6 Mike Brown/Aled Jones Mitsubishi 3:21:06.4

British Rally Championship - Drivers - Final

1 Marko Ipatti (FIN) Mitsubishi 45 points 2 Mark Higgins Vauxhall 44 3 Neil Wearden Vauxhall 35 4 Tapio Laukkanen (FIN) VW 30 5 Justin Dale Peugeot 28

South Africa - Difficult weekend for Opel.

After arriving at its home circuit of Aldo Scribante in a confident frame of mind, Team Petronas Syntium Opel experienced a disappointing day with uncharacteristic mechanical woes providing a severe set back to the team's Bankfin Touring Car Championship challenge.

Shaun Watson-Smith, who had a fighting chance of winning the championship before the event, failed to score in both races, ending any realistic hope he had of deposing Giniel de Villiers of his title.

Despite carrying a 50kg weight ballast in his Opel Vectra for previous successes, Watson-Smith qualified in a strong second place for the first race behind the Nissan of De Villiers, which was carrying zero ballast. Deon Joubert lined up third on the grid in the second Vectra, while Silvio Scribante, making his first appearance of the year, and his second ever, in the category lined up 15th after problems in qualifying.

With just 0.2sec covering the first six in qualifying for race two, Watson-Smith made a small mistake on his flying lap to line up fourth, while Joubert was sixth fastest after picking up weight ballast. Scribante qualified ninth.

In the first race, Watson-Smith pressured De Villiers in the early laps before dropping back slightly in the middle part of the race to trail the leader by 1.5sec. Disaster then struck when his engine failed on lap 14 of the 20-lap race, ending his race on the spot.

For the second race Watson-Smith was on a mission and climbed as high as sixth place, before misfortune struck yet again on lap 12 when the battery ran flat after his alternator had failed to charge the unit.

Meanwhile, Joubert was having a good race, passing the BMW of Shaun van der Linde for fourth on lap 2. He then closed up to the Nissan of Duncan Vos and pressurised it all the way to the flag, but was unable to find a way past. He set the fastest lap of the race in his pursuit of the Nissan.

Race 1:

1 Giniel de Villiers Nissan 22:35.202 2 Mark Peters Nissan 22:44.106 3 Duncan Vos Nissan 22:47.080 4 Anthony Taylor Audi 22:54.399 5 Silvio Scribante Opel 23:01.472 6 Shaun van der Linde BMW 23:01.651

Race 2:

1 Giniel de Villiers Nissan 23:32.142 2 Mark Peters Nissan 23:32.244 3 Duncan Vos Nissan 23:33.289 4 Deon Joubert Opel 23:33.683 5 Shaun van der Linde BMW 23:43.498 6 Anthony Taylor Audi 23:50.56

South African Touring Cars:

1 Giniel de Villiers Nissan 186 points 2 Shaun Watson-Smith Opel 128 3 Duncan Vos Nissan 106 4 Mark Peters Nissan 98 5 Deon Joubert Opel 96 6 Anthony Taylor Audi 84

Manufacturers':

1 Nissan 434 points 2 Opel 211 3 Audi 166 4 BMW 110

Norway - Arntsen is champion again for Opel.

Bruno Arntsen won the Norwegian Rally Championship last weekend with another first place in F2 for his Opel Astra Kit Car and a strong second place overall in the Larvik Rally. He lost almost one minute in the early stages of the event when a little off-road excursion damaged a front wheel on his Astra, but he went on to win by 30 seconds from his nearest F2 rival.

This is Arntsen's fifth Norwegian Rally Champion's title, won with one event still remaining in the six round series - the Hedmarken Rally on September 23.

Larvik Rally:

1 Morten Ostberg Subaru 50m 03.0s 2 Bruno Arntsen Opel 50:59.0 3 Pernilla Walfridsson Mitsubishi 51:31.0 4 Trond Lyseng Nissan 51:45.0 5 Bernhard Kongsrud Mitsubishi 52:36.0 6 Tonny Caspersen Subaru 53:36.0

Norwegian F2 Rally Championship - after 5 rounds (of 6):

1 Bruno Arntsen Opel 140 points 2 Trond Lyseng Nissan 89 3 Per Steinar Dybdal Honda 73,5 4 Ronny Nordli Opel 70 5 Birger Gundersen Seat 69 6 Tore Smorgrav Opel 50

Germany - Astra extends lead after Saarland Rally.

Nikki Schelle is close to clinching the F2 title in this year's German Rally Championship after his domination of the Saarland Rally in the Opel Astra Kit Car last weekend. He finished a rewarding second overall, beating the Seat WRC of series leader, Kahle in the process.

Saarland Rally:

1 Armin Kremer Subaru 1hr 04m 19.8s 2 Nikki Schelle Opel 1:06:59.8 3 Matthias Kahle Seat 1:07:38.4 4 Sven Haaf Mitsubishi 1:08:34.8 5 Harmann Gassner Proton 1:08:49.7 6 Patrick Gengler Mitsubishi 1:09:46.8

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Series V8SUPERCARS , BRC , BTCC , RALLY