Tuesday 30th MAY 2000



A highly impressive drive through the field at Oulton Park in Cheshire on Monday capped a character-building week for American Lotus racer Matt Turner.

Turner drove his Corus and Regal Hotels car from 16th on the grid to seventh in round five of the Autobytel Lotus Elise Championship, having competed in round four at Spa-Franchochamps in Belgium only eight days earlier.

Turner's first visit to the famed Spa GP circuit proved a testing experience. On a damp but drying track he qualified seventh, held up by traffic. "The quickest times were right at the end and I could never get a clear lap in," he said.

Round four was held in very wet conditions, and though Turner soon held fifth place he then began to suffer serious misting of his car's windscreen. Soon he could hardly see where he was going, and during a safety car period he tried unsuccessfully to push out the car's side windows to let more air in. "Eventually it got so bad I did not know where I was on the circuit," said Turner. "So I had to pit and have all the glass cleaned. I completed one more lap to finish a very disappointed 14th."

Good luck continued to elude Turner when his engine blew just two laps into the two-hour test session for round five at Oulton Park. The engine was changed for qualifying but he was forced to abandon any hope of competitive times when the car's water temperature rocketed. "I was lucky to be sixteenth on the grid considering I had to bring the car in after a couple of laps because it was overheating" he said.

All the problems were put behind him, however, with a stunning race performance, despite a start he described as "Terrible!" Turner was up to 10th within two laps; "My first pass was going into Cascades on the first lap, and then I picked off people who weren't paying attention," he grinned.

His meteoric progress continued, and he set an early fastest lap on lap five, and by lap eight was into seventh. "The car was in perfect health, and getting better as the race went on, but I was then challenging faster people."

Continuing to hold fastest lap until close to the end of the race, Turner produced a terrific turn of speed to take seventh from sixteenth on the grid. It was a performance which impressed many watchers and also left the driver happy. "I couldn't ask for more," Turner said. "I can now go on to the next round at Silverstone with confidence."