BTCC: Brands Hatch qualifying report

NEWS FROM THE AUTO TRADER RAC TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP Brands Hatch 20/4/96 RENAULT and BMW were to the fore at Brands Hatch this afternoon (Saty) in official qualifying for tomorrow's (Sun) rounds three and four of the Auto Trader RAC...

NEWS FROM THE AUTO TRADER RAC TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP Brands Hatch 20/4/96 RENAULT and BMW were to the fore at Brands Hatch this afternoon (Saty) in official qualifying for tomorrow's (Sun) rounds three and four of the Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship. Renault pilot Alain Menu posted quickest time of the day -- 45.752s, more than a tenth of a second inside the circuit qualifying record -- to claim pole position for round three, just ahead of Jo Winkelhock's BMW, while Winkelhock was quickest in qualifying for round four.

Official qualifying proved something of a form-book upset, with championship leader Frank Biela -- who had been expected to fly at the twisty Kent track in his four-wheel-drive Audi A4 -- back in fourth and fifth grid slots for tomorrow's twin races. His team-mate, newcomer John Bintcliffe, surprised the old hands by posting second- best time to Winkelhock to claim a front-row grid position for round four.

Many drivers complained of too many cars on the circuit for them to find an unhindered qualifying lap and several cars brushed, among them that of Menu, which was in collision with privateer Ian Heward's Vauxhall. The works Ford Mondeos of Paul Radisich and Steve Robertson both left the track, in separate incidents, sustaining light damage.

Winkelhock's first pole position of the year marks a return to the sort of form BMW enjoyed in 1993, when the German won the championship title. This new threat from his home country did not, however, faze series leader Biela: 'I'm not too disappointed with my qualifying performance,' he said. Tomorrow's races will be very tough and we are well placed...' Qualifying times: Round 3 1 Alain Menu (Switz), Renault Laguna, 0m 45.752s, 94.70mph/152.41kmh; 2 Jo Winkelhock (Ger), BMW 320i, 45.816s; 3 Rickard Rydell (Swe), Volvo 850, 45.874s; 4 Frank Biela (Ger), Audi A4, 45.890s; 5 Will Hoy (GB), Renault Laguna, 46.047s; 6 Kelvin Burt (GB), Volvo 850, 46.078s; 7 John Bintcliffe (GB), Audi A4, 46.099s; 8 James Thompson (GB), Vauxhall Vectra, 46.298s; 9 Paul Radisich (NZ), Ford Mondeo, 46.362s; 10 John Cleland (GB), Vauxhall Vectra, 46.363s. Qualifying times: Round 4 1 Winkelhock, 45.983s, 94.22mph; 2 Bintcliffe, 46.019s; 3 Hoy, 46.105s; 4 Menu, 46.112s; 5 Biela, 46.163s; 6 Rydell, 46.227s; 7 Cleland, 46.308s; 8 Burt, 46.352s; 9 Roberto Ravaglia (It), BMW 320i, 46.566s; 10 Radisich, 46.571s.

-- Official BTCC website: Best in British Motor Sport http://www.demon.co.uk/racing

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Series BTCC
Drivers Frank Biela , James Thompson , Kelvin Burt , Paul Radisich , John Cleland , Rickard Rydell , Will Hoy , Roberto Ravaglia , Steve Robertson , Alain Menu