BTCC: Donington Race Report

News from Race report: Rounds 5 & 6 VAUXHALL's John Cleland made it five different winners from five races - a first for the Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship - with a storming Sprint Race victory at ...

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Race report: Rounds 5 & 6

VAUXHALL's John Cleland made it five different winners from five races - a first for the Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship - with a storming Sprint Race victory at Donington Park this afternoon. In the pit-stop-punctuated Feature Race, David Leslie made it an all-Scottish victory parade with a well-judged tactical win for Nissan. Heading the championship tables is James Thompson. Though yet to win a race this season for Honda, he leads Volvo's Rickard Rydell by four points overall. Renault heads Nissan in the manufacturers' championship. Cleland's Sprint Race win was his first since his championship-winning season of 1995; for Vauxhall it ended a two-year drought. His victory was sealed at the start when the double champion stormed away from his third position on the grid to slice between the Volvo of surprised pole-sitter Rydell and the Honda of Thompson. By the end of the second lap the canny Scot had eked out a one-second advantage over Thompson. But try as he might, Cleland could not shake off his pursuers; Thompson reduced the gap to a car's length by mid-distance and seemed set to threaten until his mirrors were filled by Rydell's Volvo and the bid for the lead turned into a defence of second place. That allowed Cleland to ease away a little to a winning margin of a second and a half. Thompson's defence of second place succeeded, but only just: Rydell was just three-tenths of a second adrift at the flag. Fourth place had looked set to fall to erstwhile championship leader Jason Plato but, four laps from the end, the Renault man clashed with Leslie's Nissan. Leslie spun into the Redgate Corner gravel trap and instant retirement; Plato limped to the pits and his early exit with accident damage. That gifted fourth to an unusually subdued Alain Menu, the reigning champion finishing comfortably ahead of the sole surviving Nissan (after Anthony Reid's demise with engine problems) of Autosport Cup for Independents runner Matt Neal. Yvan Muller was sixth to score Audi's best result of the season so far. ___________________________________ Driver quotes

Rydell: "I thought I had made a good start, but Cleland's must have been brilliant. I was third at the first corner and was evenly matched with Thompson. My only chance to pass him was if he made a mistake, and he didn't..."

Thompson: "Our day will come - we will win soon. But at the end of the day it's the championship we want rather than race wins. Cleland started like a scalded cat and it was going to be a big risk to pass him."

Cleland: "I knew how important it was to get a good start and once I got in front it was relatively easy to control the pace. The driver is the same as in 1995, it's just that I haven't had the kit in the meantime. I've always considered myself a title contender this year." ___________________________________ David Leslie made up for his Sprint Race disappointments with a strong start from the Feature Race pole, nosing his Nissan Primera ahead of Menu's Renault as the pack streamed through Redgate Corner. Menu's tenure of second place was shortlived: Cleland made another superb start to displace Thompson from third on the drag to the first corner, then snatched second from the reigning champion before the first lap's end. Thompson was the first of the frontrunners to make his mandatory stop, pitting from fourth on lap 12 as Leslie was easing his way into a six-second lead over Cleland, who in turn had a comfortable advantage over Menu. By lap 20, Leslie's margin over the Vauxhall man was eight-and-a-half seconds; not enough to guarantee victory should Cleland's crew turn in a swifter pit-lane performance. Leslie had no need to worry, however: when he stopped on lap 21 the Nissan mechanics returned him to the track in third place on the road and, when subsequent leaders Cleland and Rydell pitted, the Scotsman was promoted back to the front. Giving chase was Menu who, after a typically slick stop from the Williams Renault team, had taken over second. Cleland found himself back in fourth, his victory hopes dashed. He did make it on to the podium for a second time, however, overhauling Thompson for third four laps from the flag. Leslie - who also won last weekend's Silverstone Sprint Race - enjoyed a six-second advantage over Menu at the end. Plato, who had started from the back of the grid, put in the drive of the race to claim fifth, just ahead of Nissan's Anthony Reid, who held off a determined late-race challenge from Rydell. Derek Warwick was eighth to complete Vauxhall's strong showing, ahead of leading Independent Neal. ___________________________________ Driver quotes

Cleland: "The last couple of years have been terrible; I had almost forgotten what the podium was. So to be on it twice in one day is terrific. It was a bit harder in the race; my plan was to stay out as long as possible to score the extra point for leading. At the end of the year this may prove vital."

Menu: "I still think I can defend my title but it's going to be a lot harder than I ever thought. I wanted to score as many points as possible today and if I can come away with 20 every weekend I'll be well pleased..."

Leslie: "I was very disappointed about the first race but I think we more than made up for it in the second. I am the first driver and Nissan is the first manufacturer to win two races this season, but we can't afford to stop developing the car or the others will be past us in a flash." ___________________________________ Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship Donington Park / 4 May 1998 Round 5: 18 laps / 35.28 miles / 56.77km 1 John Cleland GB Vauxhall Vectra 21m 39.927s 97.56mph 2 James Thompson GB Honda Accord +1.488s 3 Rickard Rydell SWE Volvo S40 +1.792s 4 Alain Menu SWI Renault Laguna +2.305s 5 Matt Neal GB Nissan Primera +17.706s 6 Yvan Muller FRA Audi A4 +18.791s 7 Peter Kox NL Honda Accord +19.088s 8 Will Hoy GB Ford Mondeo +19.640s 9 Tim Harvey GB Peugeot 406 +22.483s 10 John Bintcliffe GB Audi A4 +23.513s 11 Paul Radisich NZ Peugeot 406 +23.728s 12 Gianni Morbidelli ITA Volvo S40 +24.106s 13 Derek Warwick GB Vauxhall Vectra +24.537s 14 Craig Baird NZ Ford Mondeo +33.953s 15 Robb Gravett GB Honda Accord +37.479s 16 Mark Lemmer GB Vauxhall Vectra +37.638s 17 Tommy Rustad NOR Renault Laguna 17 laps

FASTEST LAP David Leslie GB Nissan Primera 1m 11.048s 99.17mph (record)

RETIREMENTS Jason Plato GB Renault Laguna 15 laps accident damage David Leslie GB Nissan Primera 14 laps accident Anthony Reid GB Nissan Primera 12 laps engine Roger Moen NOR Honda Accord 7 laps spin

RACE RESUME GRID Rydell - Thompson - Cleland - Plato - Menu - Reid - Leslie - Muller - Warwick - Neal - Rustad - Kox - Hoy - Lemmer - Harvey - Bintcliffe - Radisich - Moen - Baird - Gravett - Morbidelli LAP 1 Cleland leads Thompson - Rydell - Plato - Menu - Leslie - Reid - Neal - Warwick - Rustad LAP 2 Leslie takes fifth from Menu; Rustad displaces Warwick from ninth LAP 3 Warwick regains ninth, Kox to 10th as Rustad slips back LAP 5 Rustad pits to replace damaged tyre, rejoins a lap down LAP 7 Warwick spins; Kox takes over ninth, Muller 10th LAP 8 Muller takes ninth from Kox; Moen spins out at McLeans LAP 12 Reid retires (engine), top 10: Cleland - Thompson - Rydell - Plato - Leslie - Menu - Neal - Muller - Kox - Hoy LAP 15 Leslie & Plato collide; Leslie spins out, Plato retires (accident damage). Menu promoted to fourth ahead of Neal - Muller - Kox - Hoy - Harvey - Bintcliffe LAP 18 Chequered flag

___________________________________ Round 6: 36 laps / 70.56 miles / 113.53km 1 Leslie 43m 50.894s 96.41mph 2 Menu +6.258s 3 Cleland +18.552s 4 Thompson +19.400s 5 Jason Plato GB Renault Laguna +19.786s 6 Anthony Reid GB Nissan Primera +32.255s 7 Rydell +32.379s 8 Derek Warwick GB Vauxhall Vectra +36.926s 9* Neal +40.132s 10 Muller +43.680s 11 Harvey +53.699s 12 Rustad +54.741s 13 Baird +58.948s 14 Bintcliffe +1m 04.574s 15 Moen 35 laps

FASTEST LAP Leslie 1m 11.494s 98.55mph

RETIREMENTS Hoy 32 laps transmission Lemmer 30 laps electrics Gravett 22 laps engine Radisich 10 laps engine Kox/Morbidelli 1 lap collision

RACE RESUME GRID Leslie - Thompson - Menu - Cleland - Reid - Warwick - Neal - Muller - Kox - Hoy - Morbidelli - Rustad - Bintcliffe - Harvey - Gravett - Lemmer - Baird - Moen - *Rydell - *Plato - Radisich. *Times disallowed LAP 1 Leslie leads from Cleland - Menu - Thompson - Warwick - Reid - Neal - Muller - Hoy - Harvey LAP 2 Morbidelli & Kox collide at Redgate; both retire LAP 5 Muller takes seventh from Neal. LAP 6 Plato takes 10th from Harvey LAP 11 Plato displaces Hoy from ninth. Radisich retires (engine) LAP 12 Thompson pits from fourth; Plato passes Neal LAP 17 Menu pits from third. LAP 19 Warwick pits from third, Plato pits from fourth LAP 21 Leslie pits to hand lead to Cleland LAP 23 Cleland pits to hand lead to Rydell. Gravett retires (engine) LAP 25 Rydell final pit visitor LAP 26 Leslie leads from Menu - Thompson - Cleland - Plato - Reid - Hoy - Rydell - Muller - Neal LAP 28 Rydell takes Hoy for seventh LAP 29 Warwick takes 10th from Neal LAP 31 Lemmer retires (electrics) LAP 32 Hoy retires (engine) LAP 33 Cleland takes third from Thompson LAP 36 Chequered flag


CHAMPIONSHIP PLACINGS DRIVERS 1 Thompson, 56 points; 2 Rydell, 52; 3 Plato, 50; 4 Cleland, 48; 5 Menu, 42; 6 Leslie, 36; 7 Warwick, 23; 8 Reid, 22; 9 Hoy, 21; 10 Gianni Morbidelli (ITA/Volvo), 14, etc.

MANUFACTURERS 1 Renault, 69; 2 Nissan, 56; =3 Volvo & Honda, 55; 5 Vauxhall, 54; 6 Ford, 33; =7 Peugeot & Audi, 28.

TEAMS 1 Williams Renault, 53; 2 Vauxhall Sport, 33; 3 Honda Sport, 24, etc.

AUTOSPORT INDEPENDENTS 1 Robb Gravett (GB/Honda), 64; 2 Tommy Rustad (NOR/Renault), 48; 3 Neal, 45, etc.

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About this article
Series BTCC
Drivers Anthony Reid , Peter Kox , Yvan Muller , Tim Harvey , David Leslie , James Thompson , Jason Plato , Matt Neal , Craig Baird , Paul Radisich , Mark Lemmer , John Cleland , Rickard Rydell , Gianni Morbidelli , Derek Warwick , Will Hoy , Alain Menu , Tommy Rustad
Teams Williams