How one man's season can fluctuate as wildly as Rickard Rydells is hard to imagine with three retirements in the last four races of the British Touring Car Championship. Prior to that Rydell was joint top of the championship and was fresh from securing his first BTCC win for Ford at Knockhill, however his recent run of bad luck has seen him plummet to fifth in the standings, some way behind his team-mate Alain Menu.

On Sunday, Rickard's luck once again went from one end of the spectrum to the other as he cruised home in the Croft sprint race, finally crossing the line with less than a second to spare over Ford team-mate Anthony Reid.

As at Silverstone, Reid's second place is enough to push him to the top of the championship, for a couple of hours at least but although the margin of victory would suggest otherwise, the Scotsman was never in a position to challenge his Scandinavian team-mate.

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Rydell and Reid both made good getaways from the front row and immediately opened up a small gap over Menu who was experiencing chronic handling and braking problems already in the third Prodrive built Mondeo.

Jason Plato made a lightning start to move ahead of Tom Kristensen in the Honda although the Vauxhall driver's charge came to an end after just two laps when Plato lost control of the machine on the exit of the chicane and spun into retirement.

This promoted Kristensen and Matt Neal to fourth and fifth places respectively although an excellent effort by Neal soon saw the Independent Nissan pilot charging into fourth and closing down Menu.

Behind the leading five, Gabriele Tarquini maintained his position off the starting grid and was soon joined by the three factory drivers who had their one shot showdown times disallowed, James Thomspon, Yvan Muller and Vincent Radermecker. Of the three it was Thompson who made the best progress, hassling his team-mate throughout the 15 lap race.

Muller on the other hand did not make any impression and after dealing with the Class B machinery he found his Vectra to be oversteering far too much to allow him to challenge Thompson which meant that Radermecker was left with no option but to trail his team leader home.

With Rydell opening up enough breathing space over his team-mate to relax a little bit, the main point of interest centred around the progress of Neal who was easily having his best run of the year so far. The Team Dynamics driver was making sure he didn't damage his sole chassis before the feature race in the afternoon but it didn't stop him from making several desperate lunges at Menu.

Finally on lap seven the pressure became too much for the ailing Ford and when Alain applied the brakes for the ludicrously tight hairpin, there was not enough brake to stop him in time and he slid wide. As he gathered himself together Neal slipped up the inside of the Swiss driver with Kristensen following him through on the start/finish straight.

Neal then set about reducing the not inconsiderable margin to Reid who was now maintaining station, around two seconds behind Rydell. Neal set about the task admirably but sadly it wasn't enough and when the chequered flag fell after 15 laps the Nissan was just fourth tenths in arrears of the Ford.

Reid himself had closed the gap somewhat on his team-mate after Rydell got held up behind several squabbling class B runners but the Swede still crossed the line with just under a second to spare.

Kristensen came home a lonely fourth, seven seconds behind the leading trio and three seconds clear of Menu who had to contend with the close attentions of Tarquini and Thompson in the closing stages. Neither Honda was able to force a way past the stubborn Menu but they were still better off then Vauxhall whose two remaining Vectra's came home in team formation, ie Muller in front, eighth and ninth, nearly twenty seconds behind Rydell.

Class B once again fell to Alan Morrison in the lone Touring Car VIP Club Peugeot 306. Morrison started from the class pole and proceeded to disappear into the distance, opening up a comfortable eight second lead by the end. Morrison may have had some stiffer competition if Will Hoy had been present in a second Peugeot or if James Kaye hadn't been delayed with car troubles, losing too many laps to be classified as a finisher.

These various problems meant that it was Robert Collard in the Bintcliffe Sport Nissan Primera who provided the closest threat to Morrison. The Primera driver held off Mark Lemmer and his Nissan team-mate Marc Nordon for the honour of second in class.

Reid's consistent form coupled with Menu's various maladies saw the Scotsman leap to the top of the championship by a single point once again. Reid also led the championship at this point in the last meeting and posted his first retirement of the year in the following feature race. He for one will be hoping that history does not repeat itself.