Vauxhall Vectra B Super Touring in the late 90’s

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Vauxhall replaced the very successfully but ageing Cavalier Mk2 in the BTCC with the technical more advanced Vectra B. The car was initially created and ram by Ray Mallock Engineering in 1996 but running and production of the car switched to Triple Eight Engineering in 1997 and they ran works cars up till the end of super Touring in 2000. John Cleland and James Thompson found the going a lot tougher in 1996 mainly due to the fact the competition was fears with top factory teams competing. The aerodynamics which had been homologue across all the super touring championships and was primarily set-up for the much faster French, German and Italian tracks where the car badged as the Opel Vectra was much more successful Triple Eight was founded by Derek Warwick, Roland Dane and Ian Harrison in late 1996 made its BTCC début in 1997 running the works Vauxhall team left by RML and providing Vectra’s for 2 time Vauxhall champion John Cleland and team owner Derek Warwick. The season was not successful with the V aerodynamics talked about above still causing issues. John Cleland and Derek Warwick finished 12th and 14th in the championship with their best race results being a 5th. Triple Eight finished 8th in the teams' and manufacturers' (as Vauxhall) championships. 998 would be a much more competitive season, Triple Eight changed the aerodynamic package and the Vauxhall Vectra became a much more competitive car, after the FIA Touring Car Bureau agreed that Vauxhall could homologate a differing aerodynamic package to Opel's. Triple Eight's first BTCC win came at round 5 at Donington Park after John Cleland achieved a great start and never lost the lead. This would also be John Cleland's first victory since his championship year in 1995, and Vauxhall's first since James Thompson at Snetterton 1996. John Cleland would win again at Donington Park at round 12 in one of the best BTCC races ever witnessed. Derek Warwick would also take his first BTCC victory at Knockhill. While the season was successful, it was not smooth. John Cleland suffered a crash at Snetterton with reigning champion Alain Menu causing cracked ribs and heavy bruising causing him to miss the next round at Thruxton. His place was taken by Brazilian driver Flavio Figueiredo. John Cleland and Derek Warwick finished 8th and 9th in the championship. Triple Eight finished 5th in the teams' and manufacturers' award. 1999 saw Derek Warwick retire from full-time racing and to focus on running the team. His place was taken by Frenchmen Yvan Muller moving from Audi. The Vectra went through some changes as well for the season. The season only saw one win from Vauxhall by Yvan Muller at Brands Hatch round 7. Yvan Muller finished an eventual 6th in the championship, however John Cleland had a much harder season finishing 13th and announcing his retirement after 11 successful seasons with Vauxhall including 2 championships in 1989 (Vauxhall Astra) and 1995 (Vauxhall Cavalier). 2000 saw the final year of the Supertouring era and many of the manufacturers depart the BTCC (these included Renault (Williams) – 1997 champions, Volvo (TWR) – 1998 champions and Nissan (RML Group) 1999 champions) leaving Ford (Prodrive), Honda (WSR) and Vauxhall (Triple Eight). Every team increased to three cars. Triple Eight had Yvan Muller, Jason Plato (departing Renault) and Vincent Radermecker (departing Volvo) Ford were the dominant manufacturer throughout the season with all three Fords finishing 1–2–3 in the drivers' championship (Alain Menu – Anthony Reid – Rickard Rydell) with Yvan Muller and Jason Plato finishing 4th and 5th with Vincent Radermecker finishing 10th. Triple Eight finished 2nd and 3rd in the teams and manufacturers award. Triple Eight competed twice in the Bathurst 1000 in Australia. In 1997, two Vectras were entered for John Cleland/James Thompson and Derek Warwick/Peter Brock,[2] while in 1998, Cleland and Warwick shared a car with Russell Ingall and Greg Murphy driving the second car.