Rounds three and four of the British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton saw Toni Ruokonen battle the Team CAM Mitsubishi Carisma GDi through the field, only to be denied an almost assured top ten finish in both races.

Following an excellent showing in rounds one and two at Brands Hatch, hopes were high in the Bedford based team's camp, for a strong result in the fiercely fought Production class.

However, the weekend did not go quite the way they had planned, the first unscheduled event being that of the teams other driver, Aylesbury's Andy Neate, having to withdraw from the race at the last minute due to a meeting in the USA with his sponsors, Advanced Global Technology.

With all resources now focussed on the efforts of Ruokonen, albeit suffering from flu, the team were frustrated not to find the ideal set-up for Thruxton's fast and undulating curves, consequently resulting in the Finn qualifying in 14th place.

To provide and even greater level of action for the hoards of spectators who had packed around the circuit, organisers had decided to combine that the faster Touring Class cars together with the Production category machines for both the 15 lap Sprint race and the 30 lap Feature race.

The Sprint race saw a great start from Ruokonen, who's Carisma was now fully restored to exploit its customary excellent handling. After pulling a number of demon moves on his rivals and with others dropping by the wayside, his good work was undone on the 11th lap, when a following car tried a desperate move to get past going into the complex, the resulting impact deranging the car's front suspension and puncturing a tyre, forcing a terminal visit to the pits.

With the Carisma repaired, race two witnessed another dynamic start by Ruokonen, passing two cars even before the first corner. Once again, he proceeded to climb up the leader board, only to be hit once again at the same bend, this time with the Carisma spinning onto the grass. After rejoining the track, the luckless Finn found the car starting to lose drive and barely a lap later the transmission cried enough.

"I am really disappointed not to finish either race," commented Ruokonen. "After our performance in qualifying I was really pleased with the way the car was handling - in fact it had never felt better. Also, other cars were dropping out, so we could have easily picked up some valuable championship points today, but we have been able to gather a great deal of data from this meeting, so I think we will be right on the pace at Oulton Park."