Cleland hangs on for title

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Motor racing


reports from Oulton Park

A pair of top three finishes was all John Cleland needed to wrap up the British Touring Car Championship here yesterday. The Scotsman followed home Alain Menu's Renault in both races but, with his Championship rival Rickard Rydell struggling in the second race, Cleland's title was assured.

"I knew at the start of the year that I was going to be champion, but didn't expect Rydell and Menu to offer such strong challenges," said the 43-year-old, who now leads the British team in next month's World Cup in France.

Cleland initially led the first race but Menu and his Williams Renault team mate, Will Hoy, soon stormed through. Cleland held on in third spot, under pressure from Julian Bailey's Toyota. Bailey spun off allowing Rydell into fifth spot and kept the Swede's slim title hopes alive. However, a gearbox malfunction in qualifying on Saturday had confined Rydell to 18th on the grid for the second race and he could only finish 10th.

The Total Cup for private entries was won by Matt Neal, 28, from Stourbridge in a Ford Mondeo.

BRITISH TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP (Oulton Park) Round 22: 1 A Menu (Switz) Renault 22min 48.71sec (ave speed 95.70mph); 2 W Hoy (GB) Renault +5.50sec; 3 J Cleland Vauxhall +6.21; 4 G Tarquini (It) Alfa Romeo +11.10; 5 R Rydell (Swe) Volvo +11.66; 6 D Lesley (GB) Honda +13.35; 7 J Kaye (GB) Honda +18.08; 8 D Warwick (GB) Alfa Romeo +24.64; 9 S Harrison (GB) Peugeot +25.66; 10 K Burt (GB) Ford +28.21. Round 23: 1 Menu 26:38.58 (ave speed 89.39mph); 2 Cleland +5.67; 3 Lesley +5.87; 4 J Bailey (GB) Toyota +6.71; 5 T Harvey (GB) Volvo +12.65; 6 J Cecotto (Ven) BMW +13.96; 7 Burt +14.96; 8 M Briggs (SA) Vauxhall +17.07; 9 Kaye +19.01; 10 Rydell +19.36. Fastest lap: Menu 1min 1.30sec (ave speed 97.13mph). Drivers Championship after 23 races: 1 Cleland 324pts; 2 Menu 263; 3 Rydell 251; 4 Harvey 171; 5 Hoy 153; 6 Radisich 130; 7 J Thompson 124; 8 Burt 107; 9 Bailey 107; 10 P Watts 58. Manufacturers: 1 Vauxhall 378pts; 2 Renault 371; 3 Volva 343; 4 Ford 221; 5 Toyota160; 6 BMW 140; 7 Alfa Rome 122; 8 Peugeot 118; 9 Honda 114.