Motor racing: Rydell steers safe path

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RICKARD RYDELL recovered from a jittery performance in last weekend's penultimate Auto Trader British Touring Car Championship meeting to take the title with a second place in round 25 of the 26-round series at Silverstone. Third place in round 26, won by his title rival Anthony Reid, completed a great day for Volvo's Swedish driver.

Rydell was under pressure this weekend and drove a controlled and conservative sprint race, while his rivals seemed to have dispensed with all restraint. "It was like a demolition derby," said Derek Warwick. "I've never seen so much bumping and boring." While Rydell steered clear of the panel bashing, his only remaining title rival, Nissan's Reid was less fortunate. A fierce series of engagements with eventual race winner James Thompson's Honda left Reid down the field and nursing a damaged car.

Thompson drove a superb race to win, with Rydell second, Yvan Muller (Audi) third, Jason Plato (Renault) fourth and Reid fifth. Nissan's David Leslie, Peter Kox in the other Honda, and last year's champion Alain Menu all featured near the sharp end before getting involved in sundry shunts.

Kox had to retire, Leslie dropped to the back and Menu was pushed down the field to have a run-in with fellow former champion John Cleland's Vauxhall.

The rivalry continued verbally, with Cleland offering: "His trouble is that he thinks he can walk on water, but he can't. And Menu: "The truth is that he's past it. He should go home and stay there."

Nigel Mansell's season in the series ended quietly, the 1992 Formula One world champion unable to even match his team-mate Will Hoy in the uncompetitive Ford Mondeo and finished 14th in the sprint, hampered by suspension damage sustained in an early skirmish.

In the feature race he almost made it into the points in 10th place, until he was tapped into a spin by fellow former grand prix driver Warwick. He hoped for better results in the future, saying: "Ford has a new strategy to put all its resources into next year."