Alain Menu Q&A

Alain Menu clinched his second British Touring Car Championship title by a scant two points on Saturday night. The Swiss has this year moved up to number two in the all-time BTCC win chart, and is the only driver to have won two drivers' titles in the ultra-competitive Super Touring era. He told Nick Phillips how his latest success feels, and why he's no idea where he'll race next season.

Alain Menu Q&A

"Yeah, much more. I mean the first one in a way is the best, because it is the first, but my first was much easier to get than this one. I won this in the last race of the season, at a night race, and after not finishing the first race of the evening. Yeah, I was much more emotional at the end than I was in '97, so I guess it means more. And I had the two strongest team mates I've ever had, so obviously I had to beat them before beating anybody else and that was very hard. So yes, it means quite a bit more I think. It's been a good year and we've had a very good relationship Rickard [Rydell], Anthony [Reid] and myself. Even to the end we are still talking to each other, still cracking jokes and still sharing our set-ups. Really it's amazing how good the relationship has been. It's been a pleasure working with them and with Prodrive and Ford. I'm very happy to win the championship with Ford, because when I joined from Renault at the end of '98 that was the goal - to win the championship and this year we've done it."

"I knew after the first the first race I had to finish a minimum of third to be in contention for the championship, and that Anthony had to be two places behind. I knew how much he wanted the championship, so I knew he was going to try his hardest, and so third might not be enough. I thought: 'I've got to get Thompson,' so on lap two I just went for it at Priory. Exiting Bridge, I'd decided I was going to do it whatever. He tried to close the door, but it was too late. We touched, but I went through, and it's just as well I did. Anthony got taken off, but if he had not, then I would have needed the second place. I'm very happy."

"Not really to be honest. A little bit in qualifying because that's quite important, but after that first race I was very chilled out. I just thought, OK if it's going to be then I will win the championship, if not then I won't. Before that feature race I was as relaxed as I've ever been and it probably helped, that's why I think I drove pretty well."

"I think that means a lot. It was never a goal to be like the most successful Super Touring driver in the BTCC, but it's nice that I am and it's nice to be the only one to have won two Super Touring BTCC titles. The BTCC has been really good to me. It may be the end of an era, but something else will start. I'm too young to retire. So I'll get a job somewhere."

"I think probably Rickard, because really we have been fighting since '95 for the championship. Rickard and John Cleland. John is one of the best racers there have ever been, I think. He beat me once and I beat him once."

"No, not really. I suppose if you push me I'd say tonight. I think it's probably been the best day, but I don't know, there have been loads of good memories, so it's hard to pick one."

"Mark's already gone really. He just came back to fill a gap because Gerry [Hughes, Menu's race engineer for much of the year, now in F1 with Jaguar] went first. So Mark was already in F1 [with BAR], but he was coming back for the race meetings and one day a week. It wasn't ideal to be honest, but he knew what I wanted and I knew how he works, so we made it work. We've had six very good years, Mark and I and I think we've made our mark on the BTCC together. But he's going to F1 and I'm sure he'll do a great job there. And in a few years he will be richer than me I guess - when they realise how good he is."

"I don't know. I wish I could tell you what I am doing next year, but I don't know. I'd like to stay, because I love it here and, as people have said, I'm part of the furniture. I live here, so why not, but I don't know. I'm not happy that it's like that. I'd like the BTCC to carry on as it was, but obviously it was getting too expensive, so they had to do something. I'm sure it will be a great series, but it needs more manufacturers in it, and really today I don't know what I will be doing."

"I tend not to call people. I think if they think they need my services they would call me, but it doesn't always work like that. No, I just thought I would wait a bit. I'm keen to stay with Prodrive, so I will see what they can get. They have been very good to me, so I would like to carry on with them. It's like with Renault and Williams - I stayed there for six years, so I would like to stay with Prodrive whatever they do, but we'll see. We'll have to wait for a few more weeks. I'm sure they would like to have a deal signed by now, but I don't think they have. I'm sure they will get something fairly soon. But if anyone wants to call me, I'm by the phone!"

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