The final race of the British Touring Car Championship's Super Touring era was a Western-style shoot-out between Ford's dominant trio of works drivers.
The 23 races that had gone before had boiled down to this: Anthony Reid had to finish within one place of Menu, whereas Menu had to make sure he out-scored the Scot by at least four points. But waiting in the wings, long-shot Rickard Rydell had to win and also hope and pray that the bad luck that had punctuated his own season would now visit his team mates.
But as the cars lined up under the floodlights on a chilly Saturday evening at Silverstone, Rydell was out. The bad luck had returned and his newly-installed V6 had pumped its coolant out onto the grid - and then there were two...
Menu started third, but lost a place to James Thompson's Honda on the run down to Copse. But on lap two, the Mondeo was back into third after a bruising, mirror-breaking pass at Priory. Menu meant business, despite having to race with one eye on the points permutations.
Reid, meanwhile, was struggling as he lost fifth place to Yvan Muller's Vauxhall on lap five. But with the pit stop cycle beginning, both title-contenders stayed out long enough to each gain a point for leading a lap.
It was high-speed 'cat and mouse' under the lights, with Reid looking to have the upper hand as the pit stops were completed and the laps counted down to the chequered flag. Reid was fourth, with Menu second but under increasing pressure from Jason Plato's Vauxhall. If Plato took the place, Reid would be champion-elect. Nerve-jangling stuff...
But on lap 28, with just two to go, Reid's chances were at an end, his Mondeo stranded in the gravel after being pushed out by Vincent Radermecker's Vauxhall. It was a dramatic end to a classic season of touring cars, but one that left the Ford camp feeling pain and euphoria in equal measures. For an emotional Menu, it was a second BTCC title to add to the one he had won in 1997, but for Reid it was an evening to contemplate if such a chance would ever come his way again.
WHAT THEY SAID...
Alain Menu: "Winning this championship meant much more than in 1997 - I was much more emotional at the end. With Anthony Reid and Rickard Rydell, I had the two strongest team mates I ever had, so I had to beat them before I beat anybody else, and that was very hard."
Anthony Reid: "It is galling. It wasn't even worth the effort of going to see him [Vincent Radermecker] afterwards - nothing could be undone."
Vincent Radermecker: "I had a run out of Copse and was planning to take the inside line at Becketts. Normally there you brake once, come off the brakes, then brake again. He stayed on the brakes and it took me by surprise."
Rickard Rydell: "I've had the pace, but not the luck this year. That's the way it goes sometimes..."
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