NEWS FROM THE AUTOSPORT RAC TOURIST TROPHY, Donington Park, 3/11/96 MENU WINS BRITAIN'S RICHEST RACE Swiss driver Alain Menu was this afternoon (Sun) UKpounds 25,000 better off after his victory in the UK's richest -- and most historic...
NEWS FROM THE AUTOSPORT RAC TOURIST TROPHY, Donington Park, 3/11/96
MENU WINS BRITAIN'S RICHEST RACE
Swiss driver Alain Menu was this afternoon (Sun) UKpounds 25,000 better off after his victory in the UK's richest -- and most historic -- motor race, the Autosport RAC Tourist Trophy, which attracted a 25,000-strong crowd to Donington Park. Thirty-three-year-old Menu and his Renault Laguna took control of the 80-lap endurance race from the outset and held on in front by a slender three-second margin at the chequered flag.
Menu's closest challenger throughout the afternoon was young British Volvo pilot Kelvin Burt, who beat off a late-race challenge from John Bintcliffe, in the Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship- winning Audi A4, to take second place, eight seconds clear of Bintcliffe.
Menu staked his claim on the winner's cash as early as official qualifying, when he claimed pole position by a half-second margin from German Marco Werner (Honda Accord). Menu stole the lead at the green light, pursued by his Renault team-mate Will Hoy and BMW's Jo Winkelhock, and held on in front until the first of the two mandatory pit stops for fuel and tyres.
By mid-distance, with all the drivers having pitted once, Menu enjoyed a 20-second advantage over Winkelhock and Burt, but saw his lead cut dramatically 10 laps later when the TOCA Safety Car was employed to close up the field. After the second round of pit stops, Burt and Bintcliffe saw off the threat from Winkelhock to pursue Menu to the flag.
Notable casualties of the race included Menu's team-mate Will Hoy, whose final touring car appearance in a Renault ended with power steering failure just 12 laps from home while he lay sixth. John Cleland was another retirement, a wheel bearing on his Vauxhall failing at mid-distance.
Menu said: 'The car ran like clockwork, the team did a great job in the pitstops and to have the famous TT on my CV is an honour. It makes up somewhat for finishing second again in the BTCC this year.'
Menu becomes the only the second Swiss driver in the TT's 91-year history to win the event, and adds his name to a roll of honour which includes the names of such as Charles Rolls, Rudolf Caracciola, Tazio Nuvolari, Stirling Moss and Graham Hill. It was Renault's first Tourist Trophy win and the first by a French manufacturer since 1954, when a Panhard took the honours. RESULTS 80 laps -- 156.58 miles 1 Alain Menu (Switz), Renault Laguna, 1hr 43m 29.70s, 90.77mph / 146.09kmh; 2 Kelvin Burt (GB), Volvo 850, +3.11s; 3 John Bintcliffe (GB), Audi A4, +11.25s; 4 Jo Winkelhock (Ger), BMW 320i, +22.75s; 5 Tim Harvey (GB), Peugeot 406, +26.04s; 6 James Kaye (GB), Honda Accord, +31.30s; 7 Warren Hughes (GB), Ford Mondeo, 79 laps; 8 Eugene O'Brien (GB), Honda Accord, 78 laps; 9 Jan Brunstedt (Swe), Vauxhall Vectra, 76 laps.
Fastest lap: Menu (lap 58), 1m 11.90s, 98.00mph / 157.71kmh (record).
RETIREMENTS 68 laps, Will Hoy (GB), Renault Laguna, steering; 41 laps, John Cleland (GB), Vauxhall Vectra, wheel bearing; 18 laps, Marco Werner (Ger), Honda Accord, engine; 6 laps, Hamish Irvine (GB), Vauxhall Cavalier, gearbox; 1 lap, Ian Heward (GB), Vauxhall Cavalier, engine. -- Official BTCC website: Best in British Motor Sport http://www.demon.co.uk/racing