31st JULY 2000



Sports car ace Matt Turner collected a strong podium finish in the latest round of the Lotus Elise Championship at Donington after a dramatic double header which saw the Corus Hotels-backed driver in the thick of the action throughout.

Turner lined up in 13th place for the opening race of the weekend on the Saturday. Handling problems and a broken gearbox - which meant he set his time without the use of fifth gear - were to blame for his lowly showing, but the American wasn't too dispirited, "I know that 13th place isn't a fair reflection and it just means that there will be plenty of passing to do during the race, which should be fun."

Turner was right in the thick of the action from the very start of the race. He was embroiled in a tight five-car scrap over sixth place which included his team-mate Edward Horner. Horner got passed but Turner held off the rest. "Edward is fighting for the title and one of my objectives this weekend was to try and help him. I didn't roll over, but when he got ahead I wasn't too disappointed. After that, I had to fight hard all the way. There were cars everywhere and it was a real scrap."

Turner managed to break free of the threat from rival Simon Hill and was comfortably inside the top 10 when disaster struck right in the final few yards. As Turner dashed from the final corner to the finish line, the throttle cable broke leaving him to crawl home, but not before six rivals had taken advantage and pushed him back down to 13th. That was a double blow because the US driver would have to start Sunday's race from the round one finishing positions.

"I got another flier," he said. "There was all sorts of carnage ahead because the two leaders touched and cars were bumping into each other. I think some of them just got a bit scared and slammed on the brakes. I could see what was coming and chose the right route through the mayhem and I came out of it very well indeed." Turner was soon into the top six and battled his way up to fourth position, closing in on a podium slot. "I was happy and thought third might be possible, but to get a strong double finish for the team with Edward in second place was the priority."

Only after the race did the final drama unfold and winner Adam Wilcox was excluded for causing the startline accident, promoting Turner to third position. "We can be satisfied with a job well done, I think," he added. The next round of the Lotus Elise Championship is at Brands Hatch in four weeks time.