F1 STAR HERBERT "NOT PHASED" BY BRANDS HATCH RETURN
Former Formula 1 star Johnny Herbert says he'll not think twice about giving Colin Turkington, Fabrizio Giovanardi and Jason Plato a hard time again in their HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship title-decider at Brands Hatch this Sunday (4 Oct).
Herbert will be racing around the world-famous Kent circuit for the first-time since a terrible accident there in 1988 almost ended his motor sport career. A miraculous recovery saw him go on to win the Le Mans 24 Hours sports car race as well as three F1 grands prix.
Now the 45-year-old from Romford, Essex is a big name attraction in the BTCC and says there'd be no better place than Brands Hatch to achieve his first podium result in the championship.
Herbert said: "What happened happened and besides that was 20-odd years ago so I'm not phased about returning to Brands Hatch at all. In fact I'm really looking forward to it. Brands has always been a classic track for motor sport and in particular for touring cars - a lot of the BTCC's history is there and the lay-out always brings out the best in the championship.
"I was always competitive there right through my junior days in Formula Fords and Formula 3 right up to the moment I had my crash in Formula 3000. I was leading when it happened... it would be nice if on my return I could end up on the podium."
This will be Herbert's third BTCC event. In the most recent round at Rockingham he was on the end of a tongue-lashing from double champion Giovanardi whose Vauxhall Vectra came off second best in a panel-scraping duel with Herbert's Team Dynamics Honda Civic (pictured above). The incident cost Giovanardi valuable ground to Team RAC BMW driver Turkington who will go into Sunday's three races holding a 13-point lead over the Italian at the top of the table with Plato, 28 points adrift, the outsider in his Racing Silverline Chevrolet.
But Herbert added: "I did nothing wrong and I think Fabrizio in hindsight knows that. I'm not a dirty driver. I don't go round smashing people up the back and all we did was rub doors and wheels a bit which is nothing new in this business.
"I was in there with all three of them and that was a good feeling. Of course I don't want to cause any problems but I'm not going to wave them past just because they're fighting for the title. I'm not going to change my ways. Motor racing has always meant to me that you have to beat everyone and that is one of the factors that will decide who wins it the title on Sunday - it will depend on who else is quick, starts getting in on the act and jumbling up the order."
And predicted Herbert: "For me, Colin is the favourite to win the title. He and Fabrizio are both very smart and then you've got Jason who tends to be a bit more brutal. But Colin has shown even when someone gets him into trouble he can still get out of it. He was spun around by Jason at Rockingham but was very clever in how he fought back past people. He always seems to get the most out of each race. My money would be on him but they are all going to feel the pressure this weekend."