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Rydell survives Croft crash-fest.

Once again Rickard Rydell was in unbeatable form in the feature race at Croft and led the race from start to finish, successfully repelling the efforts of both Alain Menu and Anthony Reid in a race where Ford scored a crushing 1-2-3, result.

It was just as well Rydell was out on his own for most of the race because behind him there was all sorts of action with cars flying off left right and centre, fortunately with no injury to anyone involved save for some badly dented pride.

As in the sprint race Rydell was quick off the line and was able to lead comfortably into turn one. Behind him second place starter Reid also got away well, despite carrying 30kg of ballast, and took up his sprint race position just off Rydell's rear bumper.

Matt Neal was the biggest lap one loser, fluffing his start and then running wide at the chicane which allowed James Thompson and Alain Menu to gain a place over the Nissan.

As the field flashed past the start/finish line to complete their first lap the oreder read Rydell, Reid, Tom Kristensen who maintained his position off the grid, Menu, Thompson, Neal, Gabriele Tarquini, Jason Plato, Yvan Muller and Vincent Radermecker. However the order didn't stay the same for long, as approaching the complex for the second time, Plato suddenly lost control of his car and slammed into the rear of Tarquini with sickening force. It later transpired that the Vectras throttle had stuck open leaving Jason helpless. Both cars slammed into the barriers with great velocity and their cars were beyond immediate repair, however both drivers were soon clambering out and making their way back to the pits while the safety car was deployed.

On the re-start Reid got a run on Rydell into the first corner but Rydell left the Scotsman no room and he wisely decided to back off. All around the lap Reid stayed tucked under the spoiler of his team-mate but could not find the momentum to make another concerted effort. Kristensen remained a safe distance back in third ahead of Menu, Thompson and Neal.

All drivers chose to make their mandatory pit-stops a few laps either side of half distance and all went off without drama. Rydell still led by between two and three seconds while Reid now had a very determined Menu chasing him down, the Swiss driver having got past Kristensen in the pit-stops. However the Honda driver wasn't lying down and he soon began pushing the two Ford drivers very hard in his lighter Accord.

Behind the top fur, another good battle had developed for fifth place between Thompson, Neal and Radermecker, the Nissan and Vauxhall having the added bonus of no weight penalty whereas the Honda was suffering the penalty for his Silverstone sprint race win. Thompson was in fighting form though and with Neal having one eye on his rear view mirror, no pass was forthcoming.

On lap 19, Neal's problem literally disappeared from behind him, approaching the 140mph Sunny corner, Radermecker suffered a component failure on his Vectra which pitched the car sideways sending it into the barrier where it simply rolled through the armco and almost into the woods. The car was nothing more than mangled sheet metal with the barrier not looking much better but thankfully, if a little shaken, Radermecker quickly scrambled clear of his inverted machine.



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