Alain Menu returned to the podium of a Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race for the first time since 2000, enjoying a Rockingham weekend he described to The Checkered Flag as one of the cleanest of the season.
The BMR Racing Volkswagen CC driver charged through to fourth place in race one at the Corby circuit on Sunday, one of three top-10 finishes as his sixth place in race two placed him on pole position for the reverse-grid encounter later in the afternoon.
The two-time BTCC champion lost the lead to the rear-wheel drive Audi A4 of Rob Austin as the lights went out for the final race of the day, but comfortably maintained his second place throughout the 16-lapper to claim the first podium of his comeback season.
The Swiss ace was delighted to have returned to the rostrum, saying it was a result that had been a l0ng time coming in a season which he admits has been plagued by many incidents that have gone against him in 2014.
“It’s been a long time coming!”, Menu told TCF after his maiden podium of the season. “We should have had podiums earlier in the season.
“I’ve been unlucky; it’s my first clean weekend really of the season. It’s very good, I’m pleased and I just wanted a podium so that now we can really start thinking about trying to wins.
The clean Sunday action was something Menu had been calling out for to show his credentials once again, notable incidents such as a run-in with Jason Plato at Croft among those that have stymied his return season, adding: “That’s what it’s about. We had no issues yesterday in either of the free practice sessions or qualifying, and today, no problems came up in the races.
“It’s what was lacking really.”
The Volkswagen CC, which has won two races this season in the hands of team-mate Aron Smith, has lacked the front-end grip during the season according to Menu, something which he feels will be solved after the current season rather than in the remaining two meetings.
Menu said that the set-up of the Volkswagen was not the issue that has affected his outright pace this season, saying: “The car is okay; we still haven’t got the ultimate pace for sure.
“It will be a bit of a winter job I think, because for now we can’t do anything about it for the last two meetings, we just lacked a little bit of front-end grip. I don’t think it’s just the set-up, I think we need to find something else to improve it.
“The car has been very quick several times this year, but on my side it’s just been a case of too much bad luck.”
Menu focused his attentions to Silverstone, saying: “The team say that we should be quite strong at Silverstone. We’ll have to wait and see how it goes, but I think we should be quite good once again.
The fighting Swiss driver remains in the lead of the Jack Sears Trophy heading to the ninth meeting of the season following more charges through the pack at Rockingham, jumping up to 12th in the overall championship standings.
Although hinting towards preparations for another campaign, Menu remains uncertain on his immediate future as of now, concluding: “We don’t know yet, we’ll see.”