Motor Racing: Biela puts title out of reach

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The Independent Online
Frank Biela won the Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship drivers' title after two thrilling races yesterday watched by the Bank Holiday crowd at Thruxton. The Audi driver, who has led the series since the start, finished second and third yesterday to put his points tally beyond the reach of his rivals.

With the German Touring Car Championship and FIA World Cup titles already on his CV, the German driver was delighted by his win: "It's been a long, hard and difficult year," he said. "I hope to be back to defend my title next year. Now the pressure is gone and I can concentrate on winning some more races before the end of the year."

Biela nearly added an eighth race victory to his tally in round 21 at Thruxton; he chased David Leslie's Honda to the chequered flag, mounting several overtaking challenges along the way. Leslie beat Biela by 0.17sec.

The pattern of the race was decided at the first corner, where BMW's Jo Winkelhock attempted to force his way past Alain Menu and Will Hoy, who had been on the front of the grid in Renaults. Winkelhock and Menu made contact, Menu spun across the track and hit his team-mate and triggered an accident which accounted for both Renaults, Winkelhock, Kelvin Burt's Volvo, the Ford of Paul Radisich and James Thompson's Vauxhall. No one was hurt.

Several drivers were slowed by the incident but Leslie managed to pick his way through the debris to take the lead, pursued by Biela, Roberto Ravaglia (BMW), Rickard Rydell (Volvo) and Peter Kox, who was making his BTCC debut for BMW.

The Total Cup for privateers was won by Toyota's Lee Brookes, whose only real rival was Matt Neal in a Ford after Richard Kaye's Vauxhall failed to start.