BTCC: Mondello Park: Team PSP race report

Leslie claims third podium place for Team PSP. - Mondello Park magic thrills crowds. Scotsman David Leslie called on his Celtic canniness to secure another superb third place for Team PETRONAS Syntium Proton at Ireland's marvellous Mondello...

Leslie claims third podium place for Team PSP.
- Mondello Park magic thrills crowds.

Scotsman David Leslie called on his Celtic canniness to secure another superb third place for Team PETRONAS Syntium Proton at Ireland's marvellous Mondello Park in Round 9 of the 2002 British Touring Car Championships. Phil Bennett secured two solid points-scoring places with the performance difference between Team PSP and the established front-runners decreasing with every race. The changeable weather and aggressive kerbs kept drivers and pit-crews busy all weekend for another superb BTCC race programme.

Qualifying:

In their first visit to the Emerald Isle track, Team PSP personnel faced yet another steep learning curve. Yet once again the team rose to the occasion with David Leslie running as high as fifth for much of the Sprint race qualifying segment. The weather caused much of the session to be run on wets with the track drying fast between showers. The notoriously high kerbs caused damage to other cars but Leslie and Bennett stuck to the racing lines to record 7th and 9th places respectively for the Sprint race.

Phil Bennett found more pace in the second segment yet stayed in 9th slot for the Feature race, with Leslie set to start from the back of the grid after his car developed an oil leak and sidelined him from qualifying action.

Phil Bennett said:"There were cars going off all around us, with some sustaining mechanical damage as well. I was pleased to stay out of trouble and get a good run in the races."

Race 9-- Sprint (15 laps)

With 4th place man Colin Turkington unfortunately sidelined with food poisoning, those following him moved up a place on the grid for the Sprint race, run throughout in perversely sunny and dry conditions. Leslie made a good start, moving up to 4th place early on. Pace-setter Yvan Muller dropped out before the half-way mark leaving an incident-packed ten laps to the flag with two Safety Car interventions causing the field to stay close together. Leslie said:"I was having a great race with Paul O'Neill in the Egg Sport car and harrying Gareth Howell in the MG who was running third. I'm sure O'Neill nipped past me during the last caution period; no matter-- when got caught up as Howell's car went sick out of Dunlop Corner I spotted the gap and nipped through into third place. I could then pull away from O'Neill, finishing more than two seconds ahead of him and only just over four seconds behind first place man Matt Neal."

He continued:"Another third place is another well-deserved bonus for the team. The car felt great all race and we keep chipping away at the pace of the BTCC front-runners."

Phil Bennett finished a solid 8th place rounding off another good performance for Team PSP.

Race 10-- Feature (30 laps)

In another crowd-pleasing action-packed race, the Team PSP drivers coped admirably with the tricky conditions. All drivers (eventually) started on wets with all changing to slicks at the mandatory pitstop. The Safety Car was called out twice again, bunching up the field and keep the action fast and furious.

Phil Bennett, who put in another sensible drive to finish 9th said:"That was tough but great fun. I'm finding more speed from my Proton Impian and we're closing on the leaders all the time." Bennett finished just under nine seconds behind race winner Yvan Muller emphasising the increasing competitiveness of Team PSP's challenge and of the BTCC series.

David Leslie, carrying special cameras to record Team PSP's pitstop action for the televised highlights of the race, finished in 12th place less than 12 seconds behind the eventual winner.

David Wong, Team Principal, Team PETRONAS Syntium Proton said:" This is another solid performance from the team, with David's third podium of the season a real bonus. We're definitely ahead of our plans for the season which is a compliment to the team and to our competitive yet careful drivers."

-psp-

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About this article
Series BTCC
Drivers Yvan Muller , Paul O'Neill , David Leslie , Gareth Howell , Colin Turkington , Phil Bennett