The HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship makes its annual visit north of the border to Fife in Scotland for rounds 19, 20 and 21. The 2009 championship is shaping up into a two way battle for the crown, with Colin Turkington looking for his ...
The HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship makes its annual visit north of the border to Fife in Scotland for rounds 19, 20 and 21. The 2009 championship is shaping up into a two way battle for the crown, with Colin Turkington looking for his first title and leading reigning double champion Fabrizio Giovanardi by 17 points; after the Italian finally got his challenge for a hat trick of championships back on track after winning 3 out of the last 4 races with a second place finish in the other.
Giovanardi refuses to admit it's only a two-way fight for the title and says he is not bothered about doing the chasing as long as he is on the top step come the end of the season. He said, "The title is still a four way fight with Colin (Turkington), Matt, Jason (Plato) and myself all very evenly matched. I don't mind that I'm not currently leading the championship; I just need to be leading it when we reach the last round. Colin might think he has the upper hand but I'm not about to give up my title this season." Giovanardi is also confident of carrying on his recent form but admitted he would quite like some of the usual Scottish weather saying "I'm sure we can win again this weekend, but it would help if the weather was bad, as we know we're strong in these conditions."
Turkington who classifies this as his home race after being a former student of East Sterling university, took the other win in those four races and admitted that the victory enhances his championship credentials by saying, "It was great to get the win in the last race at Snetterton and a big boost to my Championship challenge ahead of Knockhill." He then went on to say he once again hopes for a good weekend despite his poor results from there last season and finished by saying, "The racing here is always very close and hard fought. We had a disappointing weekend in Scotland last year but we've certainly made huge strides since then, and we should be up there challenging this time around."
This weekend will also see the home race for two BTCC stars. This will be Airways BMW driver Jonny Adam's first home BTCC race and the double Seat Cupra champion showed he had the pace at Snetterton. His chances of a podium ended, however, when he had an embarrassing spin as the safety car came in. Adam has enjoyed great success here in other series and is dreaming of a home win by saying, "If there's anywhere I want to get my first win in the BTCC it's going to be at Knockhill. That would just be so special."
Adam feels that this has been a good first season for him and is determined to put on a good show for his home crowd by saying, "I've had a great first season so far with a couple of podiums already and I feel like I'm making progress at every event. Obviously you want to put on a show for the crowds and I know the support will be terrific at Knockhill for myself, but that will bring an added pressure so I need to make sure it doesn't take over"
The other driver enjoying home advantage, Gordon Shedden, is just glad to be there after only returning to the series with Cartridge World racing after his departure from Team Dynamics earlier in the year.
In the previous rounds the quickest car has proved to be the Chevrolets prepared by RML although bad luck has prevented them from taking a win, despite James Nash's win on the road at Snetterton in race 3, which was taken away from him after the event. Despite this Nash is only taking the positives into Knockhill and said, "People saw that I've got the speed and capability to mix it at the front so I'm trying to take the positives out of the situation. It's proved to RML that I'm a serious driver. And I want to prove that Snetterton was not a one-off. It'll be business as usual when we get there. I don't see any reason to change the way I am."
It will not be a surprise either to see Jason Plato line up again on pole just as he did in the last meeting at Snetterton.
Other drivers hoping to make a big impression at Knockhill are James Thompson and Tom Chilton.
For Thompson this will mark his last BTCC outing of the year due to other racing commitments in Australia and in the WTCC, while this will be Tom Chilton's 200th race in the championship despite only being 24!
So that's the contenders, now lets look at the Track. Knockhill is a unique place where the key to a good lap is to use plenty of Kerbs where the drivers spend just as much time in the air as they do on the circuit. Jonny Adam said, "The BMW's rear-wheel-drive to give an advantage out of the slow corners, but the front-wheel-drive cars to have the advantage of being able to ride the kerbs that bit better." A point which Vauxhall driver Andrew Jordan agrees with saying, "I'm sure the BMW's will be good through the hairpin and up the hill, but I'm confident the Vauxhall will also work well"
Due to the narrow characteristics of the circuit it's difficult to overtake although possible in some places guaranteeing plenty of action. As a result many of the BTCC stars enjoy their trip up to Scotland including both the Vauxhall drivers Matt Neal and Fabrizio Giovanardi. Neal said, "Knockhill is a great location for a BTCC round as it is such a different track to all the others which we race on. It's tight and twisty with plenty of elevation changes." While team mate Giovanardi is also a big fan of the circuit and admitted it's more like a rally course in some places saying "Knockhill is a very unique and special circuit, it's very narrow and a cross between a rally and a road circuit at times which makes it very challenging"
So will Giovanardi be able to close the gap further or will Turkington extend his lead? Will the championship provide yet another twist? Be sure to return for full reviews and images following the event.