RAC British Saloon Car Championship 1984
Round 5 Thruxton

Rover Roadshow

S oper lays down the law - Weaver gloom as BMW buried in practice - Rover quartet take top four places.

A 16-wheel Rover Vitesse steamroller scored a convincing 1-2-3-4 at a damp and mirky fifth round of the Trimoco RAC British Saloon Car Championship at Thruxton on Bank Holiday Monday.

Fate dealt a poor hand to the most likely Rover challengers. Win Percy's front row starting Hughes of Beaconsfield Toyota Supra was destined for an early race retirement, and Oulton Park winner James Weaver wa sidelined following a heavy shunt in practice. Only Dave Brodie's Mitsubishi Colt Starion kept the powder blue Rovertrain in sight by dint of some hard driving. But Brodie's charge failed too, with a loss of power on lap 13.

Steve Soper gained the lead in the Fleet Rover Vitesse, leaving Andy Rouse to fend off Tony Pond and Jean Louis Schlesser.

QUALIFYING

Rain is a great equaliser and in the first session, held in decidedly awkward conditions, Steve Soper emerged fastest, but only 0.03 sec ahead of Win Percy's Toyota Supra.

The remarkable Team turbo-Metros of Robin Brundle and Patrick Watts surprised many by being next up, Watts despite a misfire, while Vince Woodman slid the BMW 635CSi around defiantly aware that team mate James Weaver would not he on hand to assist him in the race.

The luckless, but extremely hard trying James had locked up under braking early in the first session and comprehenisvely rammed the Club chicane harriers, wiping out the trusty round 3 race winning BMW. A shame, for Weaver's time set early on had been sixth fastest . . .

The second session was fortunately much drier and Andy Rouse, at least, was more than happy with that. The Thruxton Easter Monday victor improved nine places to steal pole position from under the nose of Steve Soper albeit by the merest shadow. Percy steadfastly kept his front row place alongside the two Rovers, while Dave Brodie secured a second row position confident of his new `extra soft' Dunlops provided it remained `dryish'.

Sytner claimed the spot alongside Brodie, with Frenchman Jean-Louis Schlesser, in Pete Lovett's Rover Vitesse, and the ever exhuberant Tony Pond being split on row three by Woodman's BMW. Anxious to reclaim the overall lead, and to keep his class lead intact Patrick Watts had paved a `clear lap' to hold down a creditable ninth placing - and class pole - in the Computervision Esso/MG Metro turbo. Team mate Robin Brundle was a row back having been overhauled in the dry session by David Kennedy's sideways Grundig BMW 635CSi.

RACE

Soper gained an early advantage as the pack stormed away and jostled into Campbell for the first of 20 laps, with Rouse poised determinedly and Percy being harried by the Sanyo/Esso Rovers of Pond and Schlesser.

The dust flew on the first approach to the notorious Club chicane, although the leaders guided their way through.

The order up front remained fairly settled, though, with Rouse holding a keen lead over Soper. and Pond fending off Schlesser, with Brodie the first non-Rover several lengths adrift. Sytner and Woodman chased hard in the BMWs and Brundle held a fine class lead in eighth overall, yards ahead of Patrick Watts whose demise was imminent with a bad misfire caused by a broken rocker.

By half distance. Soper had inched closer to Rouse and finally slid inside at the Complex to take control, increasing the gap over the remaining laps. Feeling increasingly confident, Brodie had manfully reeled in the Pond and Schlesser Rovers but, just as he had taken the Frenchman, the Colt shied of the challenge and Brodie coasted into the pits with a loss of boost pressure. This left a splendid but perhaps fortunate Rover 1-2-3-4 up front, but plenty of action involved the remaining class issues.

Special Thanks To: Glyn Parham and Paul Adams.

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