Rydell on a roll

Ford produced a dominant one-two-three in round 14 of the BTCC at Croft, in a dramatic race in which Jason Plato, Gabriele Tarquini and Vincent Radermecker all crashed heavily.

Rydell on a roll

After Radermecker's shunt the race was stopped to allow barrier repairs and only re-started after almost an hour's delay. Rydell and Reid led away part one from the lights as Menu moved up from seventh on the grid.

Matt Neal was the one to miss out in the early laps, dropping behind Menu and Thompson after a lap one moment at the chicane.

The first accident was at the end of lap two, when Plato's throttle stuck open at 120mph on the entry to the Complex. Plato's Vectra slammed into the back of Tarquini's Honda and they both then hit the barrier hard.

After four safety car laps the race was re-started and Reid applied the pressure to team-mate Rydell, threatening without managing to pass. The pit-stops made little difference, though Menu moved ahead of Kristensen into third place.

Then on the 19th lap Radermecker, who had been challenging Neal hard for fifth place, crashed heavily at Sunny. "Something broke at the front, just as I braked," explained the shaken Belgian - BTCC cars approach Sunny at 140mph.

The Vectra flattened the barrier and rolled, ending up on its side. "The barrier was down and I was nearly into the trees, so I was lucky," said Radermecker. The safety car was scrambled immediately and soon the race was stopped for the barriers to be repaired.

On the re-start Menu jumped Reid to move into second place as Rydell again controlled his lead as he pleased.

Menu, Reid and Tom Kristensen battled over second place until a lap from the end when Kristensen suffered a front suspension failure going into the complex. He nursed the car across the line a lap down in seventh place. That should have given James Thompson fourth place, but Neal was again in fighting form and snatched the place on the last lap.

Thompson was fifth and Muller cruised round slowly to pick up sixth place points. "We had nothing to gain, so we told him to poodle round to the finish," said Derek Warwick, a director of Vauxhall works team Triple Eight Race Engineering, who continued: "This has been one of our worst weekends ever in touring cars. The only good thing about today is that it's over and we still have three drivers in reasonable health."

Menu leads the championship by just a point from Reid, who had himself eased out a similar one point lead after the Sprint. Rydell is third and Muller hanging on in fourth.


Results from round 14
Rickard Rydell Ford Mondeo 13m56.193s
Alain Menu Ford Mondeo 13m58.348s
Anthony Reid Ford Mondeo 13m58.737s
Matt Neal Nissan Primera 14m02.016s
James Thompson Honda Accord 14m02.694s
Yvan Muller Vauxhall Vectra 15m05.898s
James Kaye Honda Accord 15m20.707s
Alan Morrison Peugeot 306 15m21.800s
Robert Collard Nissan Primera 15m25.587
Tom Kristensen Honda Accord 1 lap
Mark Lemmer Honda Integra 1 lap
Nick James Honda Integra 1 lap

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