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    (Race Report from Donington Park on 30 July 2006)

    Vauxhall is within striking distance of main Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship rivals, SEAT Sport, after a dazzling performance at Donington Park today.

    The team added six trophies to its cabinet, including three Manufacturers Championship wins, which more than halves the gap between the Banbury-based squad and SEAT.

    Fabrizio Giovanardi opened the account in the day's first race - round 16 - when he leapt from fifth on the grid into second by the end of lap two. The former European Touring Car Champion lost a place to Gordon Shedden, who went on to win the race, but was never out of contention and ended in third.

    That dictated his starting position for race two and from third on the grid Giovanardi snatched the lead before first lap chaos, which ended team-mate Tom Chilton's race, brought out the safety car. On the restart Shedden charged past the Italian to retake the lead with VXR's Gavin Smith in seventh.

    But in one of the most eventful races of the season, the safety car was again deployed as Matt Neal, Rob Collard and Jason Plato tangled in front of Smith, who navigated the chaos flawlessly to elevate himself into third.

    On the restart Smith got the jump on Giovanardi into the first corner and maintained second until the chequered flag. Fabrizio struggled with worn tyres and dropped to fourth.

    Race three saw heartbreak for VXR as Giovanardi raced brilliantly on slick tyres in the pouring rain to battle his way into the lead from sixth on the grid. But Colin Turkington was right on his bumper for the last lap and the Vauxhall team's hopes were dashed at the 11th hour as the young Ulsterman passed Giovanardi on the last corner to take the chequered flag.

    Chilton, from Reigate, made a brilliant recovery from 20th on the grid to finish sixth, just fractions of a second behind Smith.

    Fabrizio Giovanardi: "I have to be disappointed because when you lead the race on the last lap, on the last corner and you lose - I think it's wrong.

    "It's good for me to become so angry. For me this is power and I'm going to be really fired up for Snetterton. I want to be first. Second place is the first loser.

    "That third race was really difficult. When it started to rain half-way through, the circuit was really slippery in parts and the other half was dry. I'm happy because I was so close to a win, but when you don't win but for one corner ... it's difficult to explain the disappointment."

    Tom Chilton: "In the first race I finished fifth but I should have been better. I made a mistake by trying to go around the outside on the first corner and ended up losing several places.

    "In the second race, where I got a cracking start from fifth to third, I got pushed wide, which broke my front left upright. I got onto the grass at 120mph and broke the suspension. In that race Gavin Smith ran the same set-up as me and finished second. I started ahead of him and I think I had a good chance of a win.

    "In the third race I started 20th and ended up having a real dice with Gavin for fifth place. At the end I missed out, but either way, to start from 20th I think that's pretty good. It was extremely greasy and the car set up we had was very twitchy. I was fighting with the steering wheel to hold on the whole time."

    Gavin Smith: "I was going alright in the dry conditions but the wet conditions suited me better ... it was deadly! Everyone was so nervous. It's a real leveller which makes racing so exciting. To be fair I think I could've done alright if Darren Turner hadn't hit me, which knocked me down a few spots. "

    BTCC Drivers Championship 2006
    1. Matt Neal (183)
    2. Colin Turkington (161)
    3. Gordon Shedden (130)
    4. Jason Plato (129)
    5. James Thompson (114)
    6. Tom Chilton (86)
    7. Fabrizio Giovanardi (83)
    8. Gavin Smith (82)

    BTCC Manufacturers Championship
    1. SEAT (357)
    2. Vauxhall (321)

    BTCC Teams Championship
    1. Team Halfords (296)
    2. SEAT Sport UK (254)
    3. Team RAC (216)
    4. VX Racing (214)

    Race classification - round 16
    1. Gordon Shedden (Honda Integra)
    2. Colin Turkington (MG ZS)
    3. Fabrizio Giovanardi (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)
    4. Matt Neal (Honda Integra)
    5. Tom Chilton (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)
    6. Gavin Smith (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)

    Race classification - round 17
    1. Gordon Shedden (Honda Integra)
    2. Gavin Smith (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)
    3. Mike Jordan (Honda Integra)
    4. Fabrizio Giovanardi (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)
    Tom Chilton (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)

    Race classification - round 18
    1. Colin Turkington (MG ZS)
    2. Fabrizio Giovanardi (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)
    3. Gordon Shedden (Honda Integra)
    4. Darren Turner (SEAT Léon)
    5. Gavin Smith (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)
    6. Tom Chilton (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)