Kristensen wins crash-fest

Old school biff and bash was back with a vengeance in the Super Touring BTCC era's penultimate race. Tom Kristensen kept his nose clean to hunt down and pass early leader Rickard Rydell, who was the only member of Ford's title-chasing trio to add to his score. There's still all to play for in the final round later this evening (Saturday).

Kristensen wins crash-fest

Rydell made an excellent start to make the most of his pole position and lead away from Kristensen, but third starter Alain Menu was in trouble almost immediately. Relatively slowly away, Menu dropped behind Ford team mate Anthony Reid and into Maggotts he was side-by-side with Matt Neal in the Team Dynamics Nissan. Within seconds the Mondeo was sideways and shortly afterwards battered into the gravel trap and retirement.

"When I turned right on the brakes it just snapped sideways," reported the Swiss driver. Even then he might have got away with it, but this was the first lap and it was concertina time. Eventually it was Vauxhall's Jason Plato that collected the Mondeo. "I was hard on the brakes waiting to see which way he went," said Plato, "and I almost got past him, but then I got a whack from Vincent [Radermecker] and I was sandwiched between Vincent and Alain." The impact put both Menu and Plato out of the race.

At the front Rydell stayed clear initially, but gradually Kristensen wore him down and on lap nine the Dane out-braked the Swede into Priory. That was it as far as the lead battle was concerned and Rydell later admitted that the Hondas had him beaten for speed.

Rydell initially remained comfortable in second place, but he soon had another Honda to worry about. James Thompson had spent the early laps behind Reid's Mondeo, but he too had moved cleanly past. As Rydell had to slow behind a class B car, Thompson moved in and soon made his own good clean move into second place at Luffield. Rydell was not so polite with his reply. The Mondeo tagged the Accord going into Becketts and Thompson bucked across grass and gravel, before recovering out of touch in third. "There's no point in getting into it at this stage," said a surprisingly placid Thompson.

Reid too had another Honda to deal with and that proved his nemesis. Gabriele Tarquin tried to pass the Scot going into Brooklands. There was contact, Reid spun, backed across the track and into Tarquini again. That meant retirement time for the Italian and only seventh for the damaged Mondeo. "Not much use to me," admitted Reid, who already has a higher score to drop.

The net result was a fourth place for Radermecker's Vauxhall, which had battled long and hard with team mate Yvan Muller and Matt Neal (who exchanged accusations of overtaking under yellows). Neal took fifth place, but Muller picked up a puncture, pitted to change the wheel and dropped to eighth. David Leslie was sixth in his Nissan.

In Class B Dan Eaves led the early laps in his Peugeot, while Alan Morrison fought to get the better of title rival James Kaye's Honda Accord. Eventually Morrison did just that, and Eaves duly backed off to give him the win. Eaves did not quite manage to keep Kaye down in third place, but Morrison's win was nevertheless good enough to give him the class title.

The night-time feature race finale could still see any of the Ford drivers crowned. Rydell must win to keep his hopes alive, but top positions for either Reid or Menu could be the clinchers. If Reid wins he is champion and if Menu does so, he is, unless Reid is second having led. Rydell can only take the title if he wins, Reid is lower than fifth and Menu lower than fourth. If none of them finish Reid wins.




Tom Kristensen (Honda Accord) 21m26.760s
Rickard Rydell (Ford Mondeo) 21m28.431s
James Thompson (Honda Accord) 21m28.855s
Vincent Radermecker (Vauxhall Vectra) 21m38.885s
Matt Neal (Nissan Primera) 21m39.521s
David Leslie (Nissan Primera) 21m40.199s
Anthony Reid (Ford Mondeo) 21m42.059s
Yvan Muller (Vauxhall Vectra) 22m46.274s
Alan Morrison (Peugeot 306GTi - B) 1 lap behind
James Kaye (Honda Accord - B) 1 lap behind

Fastest lap: Kristensen, 1m24.341s, 95.99mph

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