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  • VX RACING HAS THE PACE AT CROFT

    VX RACING HAS THE PACE AT CROFT
    Sunday 16 July


    VX Racing's Tom Chilton and Fabrizio Giovanardi thrilled the crowds in today's Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at Croft, North Yorkshire.

    Chilton was running strongly in second place in the day's opening race, and catching leader James Thompson, when he had to retire. He then fought his way through from 18th place to eighth in race two.

    Giovanardi, the former European Touring Car Champion, gained an incredible 19 places in the day's three races getting into some great scrambles to keep the capacity crowds on their feet.

    But, despite being the third fastest on the track, the most Giovanardi's momentum was to earn him was fifth place in race three, which he had to earn from the back of the grid after Rob Collard again helped the Italian into the gravel in race two.

    Gavin Smith was the only VX Racing driver to finish all three races, although he had a close shave in race one when first Mike Jordan and then James Kaye tipped the Dubliner into a spin leaving him in dead last. Smith recovered ten places to finish ninth.

    In race two he gave the crowds a grandstand finish as he raced James Thompson for fifth place over the line. He could not quite manage to make it stick but the reverse grid rules in race three meant that sixth place secured the 28-year-old pole position for the last race of the day.

    Smith held onto his lead for two laps until Thompson's lighter car got the better of him. He eventually finished seventh after an excursion into the gravel.

    VX Racing's newest recruit, Erkut Kizilirmak, declared himself happy after finishing two races in 15th place. The Turk, who is using the BTCC to gain valuable experience, retired from race two.

    Fabrizio Giovanardi: "When I feel an aggressive car I can make the maximum - I can be aggressive. When the car is light I come in worse. I need to feel the car under me. In the last race the car was really fast but I had to push a lot from the back and the tyres suffered a lot. In the end I had to leave the leaders to get on with it. The tyres couldn't respond.

    "We try to do the maximum. I'm a fighter. When the car gives me performance I have no fear to overtake anybody. Maybe it's worse if I try to attack because I put pressure on the tyres.
    But BTCC races are too short to manage the tyres like in Formula One. The first three laps are quite difficult - you have to fight with the other drivers to make up places."

    Tom Chilton: "I should have won a race this weekend. The best thing I can say is that in the first race on laps seven, eight and nine I was catching James Thompson a few tenths a lap so the car must be good. I think I definitely would have got a second in that race if the rear beam of the car hadn't broken. I drove my socks off. I got a good start, held myself back at the beginning to save tyres … I was set for my best result this season."

    Gavin Smith: "In the first race Mike Jordan hit me and half spun me, but what goes around comes around - he went off at Complex and didn't finish the race.

    "Then another guy hit me - James Kaye - and I dropped down to last. It was good to finish ninth from so far back but it's frustrating that you try and race with people and give them room and in return you get bashed off the track. But you can't turn back time so there's no point in crying about it. It's just one of those things."

    Erkut Kizilirmak: "I achieved what I wanted … survival! The BTCC is tough. I thought we had a battle in Turkey until the moment I had been in this fight. Now I realise that the battles we are doing in Turkey are just play.

    "But I was not intimidated. I was only scared the car would be damaged and I couldn't continue. I didn't want to miss any races. The competition level is very high. It is hard to pass even people who are two seconds slower than you! But this is my first experience and I didn't expect much. It has to be a step by step process of improvement.

    "Of course there are some differences between the Vauxhall I drive in Turkey and the Astra Sport Hatch. But as a base I'd say Vauxhall is a good car. I've been racing with Vauxhall cars for two years and I have no complaints."

    Ian Harrison, Team Principal: "Fabrizio's drive from 20th to fifth was incredible but it would have been much better to go from tenth to first! We've worked on Fabrizio's set up all weekend and in the last race of the weekend the car was right on it. We have got to do that in the first race of the weekend. Fabrizio is well established in the team now. We understand what he wants and he's using our experience more."


    BTCC Drivers Championship 2006
    1 Matt Neal (167)
    2 Colin Turkington (12
    3 Jason Plato (123)
    4 James Thompson (114)
    5 Gordon Shedden (86)
    6 Tom Chilton (75)
    7 Gavin Smith (59)
    8 Robert Collard (5
    9 Fabrizio Giovanardi (52)
    10 Mike Jordan (49)

    BTCC Manufacturers Championship
    1 SEAT (327)
    2 Vauxhall (250)

    BTCC Teams Championship
    1 Team Halfords (239)


    2 SEAT Sport UK (237)
    3 Team RAC (183)
    4 VX Racing (160)

    Race classification - round 13
    1 Jason Plato (SEAT Léon)
    2 James Thompson (SEAT Léon)
    3 Matt Neal (Honda Integra)
    4 Colin Turkington (MG ZS)
    5 Robert Collard (MG ZS)
    6 Fabrizio Giovanardi (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)
    7 Dave Pinkney (Honda Integra)
    8 James Kaye (Honda Civic Type R)
    9 Gavin Smith (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)
    15 Erkut Kizilirmak (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch
    NOT CLASSIFIED
    Tom Chilton (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)

    Race classification - round 14
    1 Matt Neal (Honda Integra)
    2 Jason Plato (SEAT Léon)
    3 Colin Turkington (MG ZS)
    4 Gordon Shedden (Honda Integra)
    5 James Thompson (SEAT Léon)
    6 Gavin Smith (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)
    7 James Kaye (Honda Civic Type R)
    8 Tom Chilton (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)
    NOT CLASSIFIED
    Fabrizio Giovanardi (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)
    Erkut Kizilirmak (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)

    Race classification - round 15
    1 James Thompson (SEAT Léon)
    2 Colin Turkington (MG ZS)
    3 Jason Plato (SEAT Léon)
    4 Fabrizio Giovanardi (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)
    5 Tom Chilton (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)
    6 Mike Jordan (Honda Integra)
    7 Gavin Smith (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)
    15 Erkut Kizilirmak (Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch)
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