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First BTCC win for Kristensen
29 May 2000
Tom Kristensen took Honda's second and his first BTCC win of the season with an impressive lights to flag victory.
Out of luck in the sprint race Tom Kristensen made amends for his third place earlier in the day with a dominant win in Monday's feature race at Oulton Park. The Danish driver romped home to his first career BTCC triumph ten seconds clear of the pursuing Vauxhall of Jason Plato.
From his pole position, Kristensen got away as though he had been fired from a gun to lead the pack into Old Hall for the first time. Surprisingly, all 16 drivers negotiated the first lap successfully with Anthony Reid moving ahead of Matt Neal to claim second place but Kristensen was simply in a class of his own.
During the opening stint of the race the Honda went unchallenged with Reid in the Mondeo unable to keep in touch. Neal in the privateer Nissan still held onto third ahead of Jason Plato who was once again ahead of his team leader Yvan Muller. Ford drivers Alain Menu and Rickard Rydell were tucked in at the back of the factory car train after being forced to start from the rear of the grid after their qualifying times were disallowed due to a technical infringement.
As the pit stops approached Kristensen was able to stretch his lead slightly further and was able to make a steady, controlled stop to retain his lead. During the opening stint, Plato had remained in close company with Reid and Neal and a lightening stop from his pit crew enabled him to beat the Mondeo and Primera back into the race. A determined Plato now set about closing the gap on Kristensen who was beginning to suffer the affects of a braking problem. An oil leak also added to the Dane's worries as Plato began slicing into the Honda's lead.
Just when the gap was visibly beginning to close, Kristensen was given a helping hand from Rickard Rydell whose engine expired laying down a nice trail of oil around most of the Oulton Park circuit. Plato was one of the first to be caught out unawares by the oil and after one lurid moment he decided that discretion was the better part of valour and settled for second place and a comfortable lead over Reid .
If the top three positions had more or less been decided, fourth place was still a major issue. Neal held the position from James Thompson, Yvan Muller, sprint race winner Alain Menu and Vincent Radermecker who were all making their intentions clearly felt by diving and weaving all the way around the, by now, very slippery Oulton Park track.
Independent runner Colin Blair was another victim of Rydell's oil and crashed his Primera with some force at Cascades before Matt Neal in the other Nissan also lost it on the oil as he braked for Island and left the prepared surface, rejoining back in ninth.
The positions remained largely unaltered until the end with Kristensen increasing his lead to over ten seconds despite his problems. “I had a bad time at the end. The last four laps were certainly the most terrifying laps I've done,” said the driver. “I started to have brake problems and I was losing a lot under braking so I knew the last laps were going to be close, then I hit a stone or something which caused the oil leak.” Despite this the Honda stayed in one piece and allowed Kristensen to enjoy his first taste of BTCC glory.
Plato finished a delighted second even though his attack plan was forced to end prematurely when he struck the oil and Reid notched up another competitive finish in the first of the Mondeo's.
Thompson held on to fourth two seconds clear of Muller who had a disappointing weekend and was expected to do better. Menu could not repeat his sprint achievement and could climb no higher than sixth, just beating for the second time in one day, Vincent Radermecker.
In Class B the Peugeot 306 of Alan Morrison was once again an early casualty with a gearbox problem which left James Kaye and Robert Collard to fight it out for class honours . Eventually Kaye emerged victorious after clinging to his lead all afternoon, at one stage he was punted to the outside of the track whilst being lapped which enabled Collard to keep in touch but a pass was not forthcoming. Mark Lemmer finished third in class after Marc Nordon retired.
The championship lead is once again in the hands of Alain Menu and nobody else. His team-mate Rydell suffered a nightmarish weekend and will not gain a point while Kristensen did his points haul no damage at all with a first and a third. Jason Plato out-scored his team leader and is also now in the frame for the championship, whether Vauxhall allow him to win it, is another matter altogether.
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