Next weekend sees the British Touring Car Championship heading into its final stages, as it visits its most northerly circuit, the ever-popular 1.3-mile Knockhill Race Circuit in Fife. All of the championships drivers are looking forward to their...
Next weekend sees the British Touring Car Championship heading into its final stages, as it visits its most northerly circuit, the ever-popular 1.3-mile Knockhill Race Circuit in Fife. All of the championships drivers are looking forward to their annual pilgrimage to the Scottish Highlands and relish the challenge that will be presented by this undulating track - and its weather.
Those of you who have read our race report from the previous round at Snetterton may have noticed that the word 'luck' cropped up quite frequently, which was ironic seeing as we seemed to suffer from a total lack of it for the whole weekend; we thought Croft had been trying but Snetterton was a total nightmare. We are hoping that the situation changes once we arrive at Knockhill as we need to score some good points to get us back into the running for the team and drivers championship, which we firmly believe we can still fight for.
After a tricky first couple of rounds, at the start of the year, we really upped the pace and started scoring some serious points elevating us to the top end of the championship tables but recently, for one reason or another, we have dropped down the leader board after a couple of disappointing results. We believe that we should be back on form at Knockhill and we are hoping to turn the situation around and start to progress back up to where we belong. Whilst James Kaye might be seen as having the driver's championship in the bag we will not give up on it until it is mathematically impossible, and with three race meetings remaining things are far from over. Although at the start of the season we might have been happy to finish in the top six we now must demand a top three finishing spot. We are still in contention to win the Teams Championship and, although that one does look somewhat tricky now with just three remaining feature races in order to score team points, motor racing - and the BTCC in particular - throw up all sorts of surprises especially when you visit a tight circuit such as Knockhill.
Hyla Breese explains, "I think Jim is in good shape to improve on his championship position. He couldn't do much at Snetterton with a fuel pressure problem in both races and his pace was masked with the problems. That meeting really hurt his, and the team's, championship position so he'll be looking to get back up the points table."
Whilst Hyla finally got some much needed mileage under his belt at Snetterton, he left the circuit with an unenviable record, he left with minus one points in the championship. After his engine failure at Croft he suffered the same fate at Snetterton meaning that he had used his quota of two new engines, as set down in the championship rules, before he had even started a race. Beacon Motorsport came to our rescue, allowing us to rent their spare engine for the weekend but, as this was engine number three, he received a penalty of five points. The replacement engine was somewhat down on power and he managed to bring the car home in ninth position in both races which is not bad at all considering he had done just 22 laps of Croft previous to starting at Snetterton.
The engine has now been returned to it's owners and a new one fitted however that new engine brings with it another five point penalty and so Hyla will start the qualifying session at Knockhill on minus six points. "With the amount of engine changes I've had I was in the minus points before I'd even raced, so I'm after getting back into the pluses and getting as many points for Team B&Q Jet York City Racing as possible. If I can help Jim out as well then that's another plus for all of us and his standing in the drivers table."
Constructed on the side of a mountain, this notoriously tight and twisty circuit is surely the most unique in Britain - it's certainly the coldest! The circuit is the only one in the UK that is licensed to run races in either direction by the MSA although the circuit will be used in its traditional layout this weekend. It presents a real challenge to the drivers and engineers alike and the undulations make for some great spectating opportunities for the fans who return year after year to pack the spectator areas and to exchange tales of what they have seen happen previously.
One thing that they definitely won't want to see repeated is our team owner John B&Q parading around in a Lycra catsuit on the grid! Whilst John is still very much in the news at the moment, following his attack on local councillors in York, and his threats to sue the Football League for negligence in the ITV Digital saga, he promises less exposure this weekend - less of the Lycra exposure, that is.
This meeting last year saw the debut of Joanna Clarke who had signed for the team to replace John B&Q, who had suspended himself after hitting teammate Nick Beaumont at the previous round at Donington Park. Knockhill is really not the circuit to be learning a new car but, nonetheless, she impressed with a couple of solid tenth place finishes. Nick Beaumont meanwhile scored an excellent eighth place finish in the feature race after failing to complete a lap in the sprint and the then fellow rival Jim Edwards Jnr, in his Honda Accord, finished ninth and fifth in the sprint and feature race respectively.
The circuit was first opened in 1974 and cars first raced on it the following season. The very next season though it was in the hands of receivers and, although new owners permitted racing to continue, it was predominantly a rallycross track until the mid eighties. Derek Butcher purchased the circuit in 1985 and has done a magnificent job in transforming the circuit and attracting top line series such as the British Touring Car Championship, British F3, British GT and British Superbikes. The first of these to attend was the BTCC in 1992 and it has returned each year since, becoming a firm favourite with fans and earning itself the affectionate nickname of the 'Scottish Grand Prix.'
Past experience suggests that the Honda Accord will not suit the tight and twisty circuit as much as the shorter, more nimble, Honda Civics and Peugeots however the Accords tend to ride the kerbs better than the shorter-wheelbase cars. This is an important aspect to setting a good time at Knockhill, which is vital in qualifying, as it is particularly tricky to pass during the race. Nonetheless there will not be a shortage of desperate drivers trying to pass and, with some cars having to make the compromise of being quick over the kerbs and slow round the hairpin, there should be no shortage of on-track entertainment.
We intend to be leading that entertainment and look forward to seeing you all there over the course of the weekend. We can be found in the paddock - in the ex-Tom Boardman Racing transporter - and we would be delighted to see you! Come by and say hello to the team and drivers and give our cars a wave when you see them on track. Above all, enjoy your weekend. See you there.
Saturday 27th July
09:00 - 09:15 Legends 2002 Championship Qualifying
09:35 - 10:15 British Touring Car Championship Free Practice
10:35 - 10:55 Michelin Porsche Cup Qualifying
11:15 - 11:45 Elf Clio Renaultsport UK Cup Qualifying
12:05 - 12:45 British Touring Car Championship Free Practice
12:45 Lunch Break
13:45 - 14:15 National Formula Ford Qualifying
14:30 - 15:00 Formula Renault UK Qualifying 30 mins
15:20 - 16:03 British Touring Car Championship Qualifying 43 mins
16:20 Legends 2002 Championship Heat 1 6 Laps
16:45 Michelin Porsche Cup Race 18 Laps
17:30 National Formula Ford Race 18 Laps
Sunday 28th July
09:30 Legends 2002 Championship Heat 2 - 6 Laps
10:10 Elf Clio Renaultsport UK Cup Race 20 Laps
11:00 Pitlane Walkabout 45 mins
12:15 British Touring Car Championship Sprint Race 25 Laps
13:00 National Formula Ford Race 24 Laps
13:50 Michelin Porsche Cup Race 24 Laps
14:40 Formula Renault UK Race 30 Laps
15:45 British Touring Car Championship Feature Race 40 Laps
17:00 Legends 2002 Championship Final 8 Laps