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Friday favourite: The understated BTCC legend who helped secure Nissan glory

Anthony Reid raced alongside some of the greatest drivers in the British Touring Car Championship's Super Touring peak, but it's an understated ace he singles out as his favourite. The Scot reflects on his prized time alongside compatriot David Leslie that yielded Nissan's first BTCC crown in 1998

David Leslie, Vodafone Nissan Racing, Nissan Primera GT, leads Yvan Muller, Audi Sport UK, Audi A4, at the head of the field

Anthony Reid was undoubtedly one of the stars of the British Touring Car Championship’s golden Super Touring era. He was fortunate enough to drive the Nissan Primera and Ford Mondeo – two of the period’s most successful cars – and twice finished runner-up in the standings, in 1998 and 2000.

Reid also had the chance to race alongside a roll call of tin-top greats. Alain Menu and Rickard Rydell were his team-mates at Ford, while he later drove for MG just as future four-time title winner Colin Turkington was getting to grips with the series. But it’s his Nissan team-mate from 1997-1998, the late David Leslie, who Reid picks as his favourite.

“I think the relationship I had with David was a very good one – we worked together well,” recalls Reid. “The Nissan Primera was a very successful car and we liked the car set up really quite similarly. Alain Menu and I wanted different things from our cars, and the same with Rickard, so it wasn’t such a gelling relationship.”

The Reid-and-Leslie partnership proved a fruitful one, too, as it propelled the RML-run Nissan squad to the 1998 manufacturers’ title.

“With the Nissan Primera, being with that programme for two years, the car had my DNA in it,” Reid continues. “Working with Nissan Motorsports Europe and Ray Mallock, we created a car that suited my driving style. And that relationship with David was successful in 1998.”

To achieve such strong results was no mean feat when the championship was full of high-profile stars and Reid – who has been reunited with his 1998 Primera for the past two seasons, driving it in the Classic Touring Car Racing Club’s Super Tourers series – has fond memories of the whole era.

Leslie arrived at Nissan from Honda in 1997 and forged a strong partnership with Reid that he remembers fondly today

Leslie arrived at Nissan from Honda in 1997 and forged a strong partnership with Reid that he remembers fondly today

Photo by: Motorsport Images

“For me, it was the absolute zenith of British Touring Cars,” he says. “To be involved in the 1990s with Super Touring to not only be racing against drivers like John Cleland, Alain Menu and Rickard Rydell but having some of the ex-F1 drivers like Derek Warwick, Nigel Mansell, Gabriele Tarquini and Gianni Morbidelli mixed in. Steve Rider was presenting on Grandstand and Murray Walker commentating. The profile the series had at that time was huge.”

Alongside the Nissan success, Reid says he and Leslie had “quite a bit of fun” together. One example was when they were driving in convoy to Croft and Reid admits to getting “slightly lost”.

“I overshot a turning just before the circuit and saw a petrol station, which I turned into,” remembers Reid. “I didn’t want to go up to the way out, as we were late, so I pulled the handbrake, cut across the verge and showered David with grass.

"We both got breaks at the right point and ended up being team-mates" Anthony Reid

“The garage owner turned up at the circuit and he was really annoyed. I was in the back of the truck and this garage owner asked, ‘Who went over the grass?’ David shopped me and pointed at me in the back of the truck. We were in identical cars so no-one would’ve known! We had to give him free tickets for the weekend!”

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But Reid says the duo were nearly team-mates years beforehand in Group C sportscars in 1990 when one of his regular Convector Porsche 962 stablemates was unavailable and the team initially considered Leslie to deputise.

Although it may not have been until 1997 that they lined up together, when Leslie joined from Honda, they had known each other since their single-seater forays in the 1980s.

“We did driving days for manufacturers in the Ian Taylor [racing school] days so we got to know each other really well,” says Reid. “That would help pay for our racing at weekends. We both got breaks at the right point and ended up being team-mates.”

Together Leslie and Reid secured the manufacturers' title for Nissan in 1998 before the latter departed for Ford

Together Leslie and Reid secured the manufacturers' title for Nissan in 1998 before the latter departed for Ford

Photo by: Gavin Lawrence

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