Touring Cars: Double threat to Aiello's lead

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The Independent Online
THE REIGNING British champion, Rickard Rydell, returned to winning ways here yesterday as James Thompson top-scored and took another bite out of points leader Laurent Aiello's advantage.

The Honda driver Thompson won the Sprint race at the North Yorkshire circuit, and chased Volvo's Rydell home in the longer feature race, while Aiello could only manage a third and a fifth place in a Nissan.

Thompson, a Yorkshireman, had qualified in pole position for both the races and led the shorter sprint race from start to finish, despite a protracted challenge from Nissan's David Leslie. Then he led the early laps of the feature race, before losing out to Rydell in the pits.

The Swede and his Volvo crew timed and executed their stop to perfection and though Thompson's slightly later stop was good, he re-joined two seconds behind. The gap was soon closed and Thompson tried his utmost to find a way past, but without success. "He [Rydell] was absolutely faultless," said Thompson afterwards.

Aiello was third in the feature, himself coming close to passing Rydell in the pits, but then unable to match the pace of the Swede or Thompson. "We have to work harder," admitted Aiello, who had been unhappy with the handling of his car all weekend.

The final podium place went to Honda's Peter Kox. The Dutchman was unable to stay with Thompson and Leslie in the sprint race, but was clear of Rydell, who took fourth, and Aiello.

Aiello's points lead is now reduced to 23 points (a maximum score over each weekend's two races is 33) and as Thompson said: "I can't understand why people are writing off the championship, when we've only just got to the half-way point. I'm paid to win and that's what I'll be trying to do."