Tarquini's feature; Fords set up title showdown

Honda's Gabriele Tarquini romped to a comfortable win in the Oulton Park feature race, round 22 of the BTCC, as Anthony Reid followed him home in second place to set up a showdown with Alain Menu for the drivers' title in Saturday's Silverstone night race finale

Tarquini's feature; Fords set up title showdown

Tarquini made only "a medium start," he said, and that gave Reid his only real shot at the race win. The Scot was alongside his Italian rival as they raced up to Old Hall, but decided an all-out bid for the lead at that stage was too risky. James Thompson made an excellent start to slot into an early third place.

Phase one of the race was low-key, with the first real upsets coming at the pit stops. Thompson and Yvan Muller lost ground, while Menu and Jason Plato moved up into third and fourth places, Menu even challenging Reid briefly, after the Scot lost time.

As things settled down, so Tarquini continued to consolidate his advantage and Reid established his supremacy over Menu. Then it was safety car time after a brake disc exploded on Tom Kristensen's Honda.

"I was in sixth coming up to Druids," said the shaken Dane. "All I could do was try to spin it and fortunately I managed to take the long route to the barrier and the impact wasn't too bad. I'm OK, but the car isn't."

The safety car wiped out Tarquini's lead, but he did have the comfort of a pair of Class B cars between himself and Reid, and so again made his escape at the re-start, as did Reid. But Menu immediately came under attack from Muller. The Frenchman had slipped past team mate Jason Plato at Old Hall immediately after the re-start and by the end of the next lap was into third place and striding away.

Menu was now fourth - his ideal position as it gained him the most points available without picking up any success ballast for the final rounds. That all went wrong for Menu though when his Mondeo's engine cut coming out of Druids. A bit of switch fiddling brought things back to life but by then Plato and James Thompson were through. "That's three points lost," said the dejected Swiss.

Thompson and Plato fought hard to the end, with the Vauxhall man staying in front to be fourth and very pleased with his pit stop tactics which had moved him up from eighth to fourth. Thompson told the opposite story, having dropped from third.

Rickard Rydell had another nightmare race, starting slowly and then picking up a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit-lane. Eighth place put his title hopes into dreamland, but he remains the only driver bar Menu and Reid who can still win the title.

Class B produced another great scrap. Alan Morrison led early on for Peugeot, but ran into big brake problems and had to stop for a fluid top-up. Morrison's title rival James Kaye eventually won the class, but he had to fight for it. "I started last and finished first, so you can't get better than that," said Kaye.

He came out on top in a tremendous late-race scrap with Peugeot's Dan Eaves, as the impressive Gareth Howell brought the Ford Focus home close behind in third place.

Once dropped scores are factored in, Menu and Reid go into the final rounds level-pegging. The crucial difference could be that Reid will carry 40kg success ballast and Menu none, but it will certainly be close.


18 Gabriele TARQUINI ITA Honda Accord 54:35.541
12 Anthony REID GBR Ford Mondeo Zetec 3.847
6 Yvan MULLER FRA Vauxhall Vectra 6.308
5 Jason PLATO GBR Vauxhall Vectra 9.146
4 James THOMPSON GBR Honda Accord 9.518
11 Alain MENU SUI Ford Mondeo Zetec 12.279
9 Matt NEAL GBR Nissan Primera GT 12.814 (Independent)
3 Rickard RYDELL SWE Ford Mondeo Zetec 15.998
33 James KAYE GBR Honda Accord 2 LAPS (Class B)
26 Dan EAVES GBR Peugeot 306 GTi 2 LAPS (Class B)

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