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Honda breaks BTCC duck

Italian maestro Gabriele Tarquini was the star of the show in round eight, taking a lights to flag victory, the first for Redstone Team Honda this season. The 1994 BTCC champion fended off an early challenge from series leader Alain Menu (Ford) then pulled out a healthy gap to win at the end of 40 laps by a comfortable three seconds.

Menu looked certain to claim another second place finish, but eight laps from the end he lost control of his Mondeo at Duffus and spun into retirement. That promoted James Thompson to second, the Yorkshireman having moved up from fourth after losing a place at the start to Rickard Rydell.

Thompson, competing for the first time since recovering from injuries sustained in an accident at the championship's opening meeting at Brands Hatch, crossed the line to claim his first podium finish of the year - only to have it taken away from him after his Accord failed a ride-height check at the end of the race.

The Stewards' decision promoted Rydell to second and Scotland's Anthony Reid (Ford) to third, his second of the day. Reid had started from ninth on the grid but moved through the field as he put on the style in front of his home crowd. In the early stages of the race, the Glasgow-born Mondeo man sliced past Vauxhall's Vincent Radermecker at the hairpin to claim eighth - then repeated the move a lap later on Radermecker's team-mate Yvan Muller to take seventh.

The Scot had to wait ten more laps before he pulled off the same overtaking move, this time Michelin Cup for Independent leader Matt Neal the victim. He inherited another place when Honda's Tom Kristensen - who had earlier overtaken Rydell at the hairpin with a similar move used to such good effect by Reid - retired from fourth with a broken driveshaft. Menu's demise then put the Scot up to fourth.

The unluckiest driver of the day was Vauxhall's Jason Plato, who came off
worst when four cars all went into the hairpin on the first lap. Only three emerged up the start-finish straight and Plato's Vectra was left stranded in the gravel trap. He eventually dragged it out but by that time was nearly a lap down and had to play catch up for the remainder of the race, finishing a creditable eighth.

Neal took his second Michelin Cup victory of the day, finishing fifth overall. The Stourbridge-based driver, and reigning Independent champion, was passed early on by Reid and Muller but held off Radermecker who was challenging the Team Dynamics Nissan Primera for much of the race.

In Class B, Alan Morrison gained revenge over Mark Lemmer to further strengthen his lead at the top of the table. The pair were embroiled in another close battle at the start, but by lap four the Touring Car VIP Club Peugeot 306 of Morrison began to pull away from Lemmer's Barwell Motorsport Honda Integra Type R. Lemmer's team-mate James Kaye finished third in another Integra.

Tarquini: "My car was really good. I got pole position which is very important because overtaking is very difficult here. I made a good start and stayed in front. It is a big advantage to drive with nobody in front because you save your tyres, brakes and temperatures, and the race was quite easy to control because of that. It is too early to say if this is a good sign for the rest of the season because of the ballast in the Fords and Vauxhalls. I think it really affected them here so we will have to wait and see."

Rydell: "The car was quite good, I just had a couple of problems in the hairpin which let Tom Kristensen past. Fortunately for me he retired later and then I picked up third when Alain went out, which was unfortunate for him but at least it makes the championship more interesting."

Reid: "It's unfortunate for James, but I'm very pleased to be moved up to third. It now puts me very close to the lead of the championship."

Neal: "We had a big problem with front end grip in the first race, or lack of it, so we did a bit of fine-tuning between the races to try to improve it and actually made it worse. Right from the word go I was slower than I in the first race so I was pleased to finish where I did."

Morrison: "I just wanted to make amends for what happened in the first race when we had a couple of problems. After I got away from Mark I just protected my lead and it's good to take another win. The first race was good though, even with the oil pressure and brake problems I had. Let's hope there's more like that."

1 18 Gabriele TARQUINI ITA Honda Accord 36:08.803
2 4 James THOMPSON GBR Honda Accord 36:12.076
3 3 Rickard RYDELL SWE Ford Mondeo Zetec 36:25.517
4 12 Anthony REID GBR Ford Mondeo Zetec 36:30.328
5 6 Yvan MULLER FRA Vauxhall Vectra 36:33.670
6 9 I Matt NEAL GBR Nissan Primera GT 36:37.628
7 8 Vincent RADERMECKER BEL Vauxhall Vectra 36:38.077
8 45 I Colin BLAIR GBR Nissan Primera GT 36:56.905
9 5 Jason PLATO GBR Vauxhall Vectra 36:59.305
10 13 B Alan MORRISON GBR Peugeot 306 GTi 36:53.648
11 23 B Mark LEMMER GBR Honda Integra R 36:09.370
12 33 B James KAYE GBR Honda Accord 36:20.671

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