Team talk ahead of Knockhill contest
A number of our teams have been speaking about the upcoming Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship battle at Knockhill this weekend (23-24 August). Read what a number of the drivers and teams had to say below, and don’t forget to check out separate stories from Honda Yuasa Racing, MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save and eBay Motors.
Pirtek Racing endured really tough weekend at Snetterton. A major accident in free practice sent Andrew Jordan to hospital for a check-up after suffering concussion and, although he managed to contest the first two races, he was ruled out of the third race due to the after-effects of the concussion.
While Andrew took the chance of a few days in the sun, the Pirtek team has been busy getting the Honda Civic back in prime condition after the accident, and both car and driver will be back in top condition for what is always one of the most exciting weekends of the season.
“I’m fit and raring to go for Knockhill,” said Andrew. “We’ll have a different approach to the weekend: for the last 18 months the target has always been consistency and championship points, but now I can just go all out for race wins. It will be a case of going as fast as I can and trying to win races. I’m relishing the prospect of being let off the leash!”
Rotek Racing enjoyed its strongest event of the season last time out at Snetterton as driver Robb Holland scored his maiden BTCC points. With confidence and belief at an all-time high, Holland will endeavour to “equal or better” his Snetterton performances in front of a passionate Scottish crowd at Knockhill – another circuit he has experience of.
“I’m feeling a lot more confident, mainly because the car feels a lot better,” said Holland. “However, Knockhill is a completely different circuit to the one we just left so we’ll have to see. To equal or better the Snetterton performance and score more points was always going to be the target and Rotek Racing has been pushing hard to keep the momentum going through to Knockhill. I’ve raced the circuit before and scored points in two of the three races there. I love the place, as it’s absolutely mental, you’re on it for every second of every lap and its short, technical layout requires a lot of focus and concentration. It’s immensely fun and I really enjoyed the Scottish fans – they were awesome and I’ve been looking forward to going back there since the start of the year.
Airwaves Racing enjoyed a successful weekend at Snetterton earlier in the month saw a rejuvenated squad refocus its challenge on the championship. After claiming a second place finish and three top ten results, the Kent-based squad turns its attention to Knockhill, quietly confident of another fruitful performance.
Fabrizio Giovanardi said, “Snetterton was a good weekend for me, when you think that I started from the back. Unfortunately the last race finished not as I was expecting, but our performance was good. I’m expecting to have a good result this weekend after our testing at Snetterton. We planned some small changes that helped us find an interesting setup for my style so I think we’ve made another jump forward.
“Knockhill was my best result in my first year ever in the BTCC back in 2006, after a really tough season. From that moment on, my history in the BTCC was a success and now I wish to restart that again with my new challenge in the BTCC with Motorbase.”
Airwaves Racing driver Mat Jackson said: “We had a great weekend at Snetterton and came so close to getting that win, but it just wasn’t to be. We’ve been under the radar a little this season, quietly plugging away and getting the results – a bit of a dark horse if you like – which means that we’re now sitting in a very good position as the second half of the season unfolds.
“The Focus is in a great place at the minute, bang on the pace and I’m going all out this weekend to make sure that we close that gap on the championship leaders.”
Crabbie’s Racing driver Jack Clarke has already scored points in two of the six events so far – starring at both Donington Park and Croft in his striking green Crabbie’s-backed Ford Focus – and now he’s keen to add to his tally north of the border.
He said, “I am really excited about the event at Knockhill and racing in front of such a passionate crowd. I believe the tight nature and characteristics of the track should suit my style too so I can’t wait to get stuck in.
“Snetterton didn’t quite go to plan for a number of reasons but we still produced our best qualifying of the season so far. We also scored points in the previous round at Croft, so we’ve been showing promising signs of moving towards the front.
“The car has been performing well in recent rounds. I was one of the fastest cars on-track at Croft, so that’s given everyone at the team a real boost and we’re confident for the remainder of the season.”
WIX Racing’s Adam Morgan enjoyed a strong showing at Snetterton, and comments: “The car’s handling is absolutely spot on. For a little circuit Knockhill has it all, steep elevations, fast flowing corners and one of the tightest, slowest corners of all the tracks that we visit. Qualifying is paramount as it’s so narrow and bumpy, but I usually go well there so am hoping for some decent results.”
Handy Motorsport racer Simon Belcher hasn’t visited Knockhill for several years since Belcher, with the Renault UK Clio Cup not having come to Scotland during the two seasons he raced in the BTCC feeder series. Despite this he is sure it won’t take long to re-acclimatise himself with the 1.3-mile track.
“Knockhill is definitely a unique challenge, it’s a long trip up there but always worth it as it’s a great track and the Scottish fans are always super supportive”, he commented, “I can’t wait to visit there as a BTCC driver for the first time, hopefully it could be our strongest weekend yet.”
United Autosports are making the trip to Knockhill for the very first time, and it’s a first for both of their drivers in touring car machinery too. #20 driver James Cole said: “I’m looking forward to getting back to Knockhill. I last raced there in 2009 in a Formula Ford single-seater.
“It’s a fantastic short track with lots of aggressive lunges. I’m really hoping the twisty circuit will suit the Toyota. I have a new ‘bodyshell’ and engine so I’m looking forward to the next three races on a circuit that hopefully will give us the opportunity to post good results.”
Local racer Glynn Geddie said: “My first car race was not surprisingly at Knockhill in 2006 when I contested the Scottish MINI Challenge and I’ve probably raced there in excess of 20 times – the last time in 2012 in a Porsche. It’s been pretty much a happy hunting ground for me having won around 12 Mini or Porsche races.
“I like the track although it’s short in length and narrow in width so it’s very tight for overtaking. I really hope my ‘home’ track is a changing point in my maiden BTCC season – it’s been a hard first year to date. We’ll need some luck in qualifying with more than 30 cars on a tight circuit.”
AmdTuning.com’s Ford Focus is piloted by Scottish resident Dave Newsham, who said: “Knockhill is a weekend I always look forward to, and we have a lot of guests and sponsors who are coming along,” he said. “Hopefully we can put on a good show and I think we should do okay. There’s a bit more to come from me and Knockhill is a circuit where the driver can make a real difference. If it rains, we’ll definitely be in a good position, as we already know the Focus is good in the wet.
“We had our best qualifying last time out and we have to qualify well this weekend because it’s going to be tough with 31 cars on such a small track. Getting a free lap will be tough, but we have to try and make sure we are on track at the right time and avoid getting caught up in any incidents.”
Exocet Racing driver Rob Austin secured his only BTCC pole position to date at Knockhill last season. Returning to this happy hunting ground, the Audi A4 driver said, “The intensity and level of competition has moved on since last August which makes it tough enough to break into the top ten as it is and then there is the insane prospect of what lies in store in qualifying on Saturday afternoon. This is going to be the craziest qualifying session of all time.”
“Half a second was the difference between pole and 15th on the grid last year. I predict it will be even less this time around while I also expect another two tenths of a second to be knocked off that pole time at least.
“With the title race coming to a bit of a critical point as well I’d imagine there will be some very angry drivers on Saturday evening. I hope I’m not one of them and that our strategy will work out like in 2013.
“One thing is guaranteed: it is going to make for an incredible spectacle for the fans trackside or those watching the live coverage on ITV.com.”