Touring Cars: Nissan pair clean up

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NISSAN'S SCOTTISH and French drivers, David Leslie and Laurent Aiello, took the lions' share of the points from rounds 17 and 18 of the British Touring Car Championship here yesterday.

Leslie had marginally the better day, pairing a win in the feature race with fourth in the sprint race, which Aiello won before bringing his Primera home fifth in the feature. In the title race this pair are now well clear of the field, just 10 points apart.

Aiello's win in the entertaining sprint race was a comfortable one. The Frenchman out-dragged the pole position holder Rickard Rydell at the start and the Swede never looked likely to mount a serious challenge for the lead. He was to rue his poor start.

Aiello immediately established a narrow lead and held it to the chequered flag, while behind him the action was fierce. Vincent Radermecker emerged in third place in the second Volvo after battling past James Thompson's Honda and Leslie.

Leslie also got past Thompson's fading Accord, which eventually dropped to seventh after a series of tussles involving Jason Plato's Renault and Michelin Independents' Cup winner Matt Neal's Nissan, which finished fourth and fifth respectively.

In the feature race, Rydell made a much better start and led the early laps, until the engine in his Volvo failed. That left Aiello, who had muscled past Leslie on the first lap, in the lead. The Frenchman, though, had fallen foul of the rules, picking up a pair of pit drive-through penalties and so dropping to fifth. Leslie gladly accepted the win, as Radermecker took second place and Alain Menu brought his Ford Mondeo home a competitive third.

Vauxhall's double champion, John Cleland, had the sort of day with which he has become used to in the past two years, finishing 12th in the sprint race and failing to start the feature because of an engine problem, He promptly announced that he was pulling out of the series at the end of the year.

"When you don't enjoy it anymore, maybe it's not worth continuing," said the 47-year-old Scot who intends to race on in other categories.