Alain Menu Q&A

Alain Menu has been at the top of the BTCC points table for most of the year. He dropped to second with six rounds to run, but he's still one of the title favourites. After qualifying sixth and seventh for rounds 19 and 20, the Swiss Ford Mondeo driver talked to Nick Phillips about his prospects for the rest of the season and beyond

Alain Menu Q&A

A: Tough. It's going to be really tough. Mainly because of having two very, very good team mates [Anthony Reid and Rickard Rydell] and because of the weight penalties. The Mondeo is maybe not always the best, but it is still a fantastic car and we know we can go to most tracks with a good hope of winning. But to do that I've got to beat Rickard and Anthony, so it's not easy. Then I'm not discounting the Hondas and the Vauxhalls either, so I think it's the toughest championship for a very long time.

A: Yeah that's disappointing. I'm sure everybody's got the same story. I should have been quicker. I should have been fourth at least. You look at the data and you find a bit here and a bit there, but that's Brands Hatch Indy. You lose a few hundredths here and few hundredths there and with two hundredths in the first session I would be fourth. Traffic is difficult here too, sometimes you have to back right off to let these class B cars get out of the way and then your tyres cool down and when you start your lap, they are too cold, so it is quite tricky here. But I had a couple of good clear laps, so it's not just traffic, it's a question of getting a lap together and at Brands Indy, that's very tricky to do.

A: That could be good if Rickard doesn't win both. I don't know, it's too early to think about that we'll see what happens, but if I could go to Oulton without any weight, but maybe leading the championship, or much closer to Anthony, then that could be good, but I'm not really thinking about it yet. We'll see tomorrow morning.

A: The only thing is with these weight penalties. I did it at Silverstone [dropped to fourth place to avoid success ballast], but it backfired because Rickard got excluded, so I got third place anyway. That's the only thing you can do, but you can only decide on the last lap or two of any race and you probably wouldn't do it in the first race of the day. I've done it, so I might do it again.

A: Hopefully me! No, obviously I want it to be me. It should be me. If I'd had a normal season I would have quite a few more points than I have now, it would be easier for me to tell you now that it's going to be Menu, but it's just too close to call at the moment. I've been unlucky this year. OK, I made that cock-up at Knockhill while I was in third place - I still don't know what happened, the car just went, but I was chucked out of pole at Oulton because the car was just too wide, then I had the clutch problem at Silverstone; I got punted off by Plato at Thruxton; then there was Nick James in the way at Donington, so there were many, many points lost, it must be at least 30, though I haven't counted. So I'm fighting for the championship, but I've had one of my worst years. I've won five races, but it's not been a very good year for me so far.

A: To start with Prodrive were maybe not quite up to the level of Williams on a few things, but they have improved over the two years where they had to and where they were already very good, they are even better, so it is a fantastic team. The proof of the pudding is that we are winning all the championships (driver, manufacturer, team) with the Ford Mondeo, which in the past was not the best car. We have now proved that the Mondeo is a good car - and Prodrive has done that.

A: It's probably better than the atmosphere in my last year at Williams, but similar to how it was at Williams in '96 and '97. They're a nice bunch of lads. I know they all look ugly, but they are a good bunch of people.

A: No. I'm not sad, everything has an end. For sure it's the end of what has been a very good era for me. I've had a very good time in the BTCC, and I might carry on, I don't know. It's going to be a different spec, but I don't know what I will be doing next year. No clue.

A: Why not? I'm interested. I'm sure the cars will be slower, so you could say that will be less interesting to drive, but they'll have less grip, so they'll probably slide a bit more and that could give some of the nice feeling back. But the main thing is to drive a competitive car in a competitive championship. They need more than just Vauxhall and probably Peugeot in the BTCC. They need one or two more manufacturers and then it could be good.

A: No and I don't want to retire. I still have a passion for motor racing so I want to carry on but I don't know what I will be driving. DTM looks good, Superstars looks good on paper, but I don't know if it's going to happen, then why not sportscars - more power more grip, rear-wheel drive, that could be interesting. As long as it's competitive, I can win races, and I'm getting paid for it, then I'm happy.

A: I'm young. I'm only 37, [John] Cleland was still quick at the end. I probably won't carry on till I'm 50, but as long as I enjoy doing it, still get offered drives I'll carry on, and as long as I'm quick. I think the day I'm too slow I think I will probably give up, but by then I probably will have made enough money to retire anyway.

A: I've got one left for this year - to win the championship, and then next year, whatever I'm in, I want to win. My biggest ambition was to be an F1 driver. I haven't done that, and I'm very unlikely ever to be an F1 driver, so I just want to do the best I can in whatever I drive and win races.

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