Tarquini wins Donington feature

Honda hotshoe Gabriele Tarquini converted the pole position he grabbed on Saturday into a win on Sunday in round 18 of the BTCC at Donington.

Tarquini wins Donington feature

The Italian moved ahead of sprint race winner Anthony Reid, and then pulled clear. Reid lost second place to the on-form Matt Neal at the Melbourne hairpin on the last lap.

"My car was the fastest here this weekend," said Tarquini of his JAS Motorsport Honda Accord. "It was capable of winning both races, but I made a big mistake in the first."

Tarquini was on pole position, but was beaten to Redgate by the fast-starting Reid and for the opening laps the Mondeo driver looked comfortable in the lead. The crunch came at pit-stop time. Reid pitted comparatively early and when Tarquini emerged from his much later stop he was just ahead. The Honda sliced across the track to defend the inside line into Redgate and Tarquini held on as they approached David Leslie in the PRO Motorsport Nissan which had yet to stop.

Tarquini moved past it cleanly on the way into the Melbourne Hairpin, but there was contact between Reid and Leslie as the Ford man tried to follow his rival past the Primera. "If you want to annoy someone, run into them," said Leslie later and his behaviour on-track showed that he was definitely annoyed. He kept Reid behind him for nearly a lap and by then Tarquini was long gone and Neal was on Reid's tail. Leslie's tactics provoked plenty of comments.

"He was very obstructive, I don't know why," said Reid, while Tarquini and Neal were suddenly transformed into big Leslie fans. "I had a really good help from Leslie," said Tarquini, while Neal promised that: "David is going to be really drunk on all the beers I'm going to buy him."

Nevertheless, Reid looked as though he would have no trouble hanging on to second place until the last couple of laps, then it seemed that Reid's tyres were wearing after his much earlier stop, while Neal was still in full-flight.

Going into Melbourne for the last time Reid slid a fraction wide and Neal was into the gap - "like a rat up a drainpipe," according to Reid. Neal completed the move forcefully and the place was his. Reid was nevertheless happy enough with third place and the seven-point lead in the championship it gives him.

Yvan Muller was again fourth, though he reckoned that the five seconds he lost thanks to a team misunderstanding in the pits had cost him a shot at the podium. Thompson added a fifth place to third in the sprint and was proud to be the top finisher carrying ballast again. Rickard Rydell and Jason Plato came in sixth and seventh, to keep themselves in the group of five still in with a realistic shot at the title. Rydell reckoned he was just short on pace and had also lost out in traffic and in a slow pit stop, while Plato is no longer on Tom Kristensen's Christmas card list after the Dane speared off into the gravel and retirement after a barging match.

"I don't even want to waste words on him, he's just a joke," said the angry Dane. Alain Menu's damage limitation exercise as he (like Plato) fought to cope with 40kg of success ballast on a circuit where that really hurts, had limited success. The Swiss came home ninth, struggling everywhere and eventually running out of brakes, which put paid to his efforts to stay ahead of the Vauxhalls of Plato and Vincent Radermecker.

James Kaye took a comfortable Class B win after Mark Lemmer locked up and punted Alan Morrison's Peugeot into a spin on the opening lap. Kaye reckoned that significant progress has been made in the development of his Honda Accord, thanks in no small part to work done by Tarquini with a sister car on the run-up to its participation in next weekend's Spa 24 Hours.

Drivers' Championship
Reid 156pts
Menu 149
Rydell 139
Muller 131
Plato 123
Tarquini 112

Round 18 Results
Gabriele Tarquini Honda Accord 49m48.875s
Matt Neal Nissan Primera GT 49m52.093s
Anthony Reid Ford Mondeo Zetec 49m52.482s
Yvan Muller 49m54.364s
James Thompson Honda Accord 50m08.786s
Rickard Rydell Mondeo Zetec 50m16.809s
Jason Plato Vauxhall Vectra 50m19.201s
Vincent Radermecker Vauxhall Vectra 50m22.473s
Alain Menu Ford Mondeo Zetec 50m32.041s
David Leslie Nissan Primera GT 50m37.708s
James Kaye Honda Accord 51m13.542s
Alan Morrison Peugeot 306 GTi 51m38.097s
Mark Lemmer Honda Integra R 51m0.889s

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