The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship makes its annual pilgrimage north of the border this weekend, to the Knockhill racing circuit for rounds 10, 11 and 12 of this condensed season.
It’s been a manic week for all the teams up and down the grid, and in the support categories as they made the mad dash up from Cheshire, to Fife in Scotland. It’s been a chaotic week for Team HARD especially, as they have had to try and repair both Nicolas Hamilton and Ollie Brown’s cars after that big crash in race three last weekend.
Unfortunately, Hamilton’s chassis was too badly damaged after the impact with the tyre wall on the inside of Druids and couldn’t be repaired in time, despite the best efforts of the Kent-based squad.
However, the team did manage to get Brown’s car ready for action, but he has been forced top withdraw from this weekend’s action on medical grounds as he suffered a hairline fracture to one of his ribs in the accident with Team Parker Racing’s Stephen Jelley and teammate Hamilton.
The team’s hopes lie with BTCC race winner Jack Goff and multiple National Hot Rod World Champion Carl Boardley this weekend. Between them, the pair have six points finishes so far this year, two for Goff and four for Boardley. Goff sits 21st in the driver’s standings whilst Boardley sits in 22nd with just two points separating them both.
Boardley however, will be looking more closely at the Jack Sears Trophy standings which is currently led by Michael Crees with Bobby Thompson in second and Boardley in third – just 19 points behind BTC Racing’s Crees.
The former short circuit oval racer is gunning for more points this weekend on a circuit that suits the rear-wheel drive BMW’s well.
Three different drivers stood on the top step of the podium last Sunday with: Rory Butcher, Ashley Sutton and Adam Morgan each clinching a race win.
Butcher benefited from Josh Cook’s disqualification in race one due to him failing the post-race ride-height check – somewhat making amends for that puncture late-on at Brands Hatch. He followed that up with a second in race two and an eighth-place finish in race three.
Sutton took race two after starting eighth on the grid, pulling an impressive manoeuvre around the outside of Butcher to take the race lead, before cruising to the chequered flag. Sutton finished eighth in the first race before finishing fourth in race three.
Morgan pulled a fantastic defensive drive in a dry race three to fend off not only Tom Oliphant but also Colin Turkington. He finished seventh in race one and ninth in race two.
Last year, Butcher took an emotional home win after qualifying on pole and will be aiming for the same level of performance this weekend.
“It was the weekend that we really needed,” he said. “We got another pole position which was such a great feeling to do that, and it put us in the best place for Sunday’s races. We will inherit the points and take the trophy for race one but I’m eager to get that first win in this car across the line. It’s unfinished business.
“The pressure is even higher at home. I will definitely try and ride that wave of pressure and turn it into a positive energy. I can’t wait to get to my home circuit. I know the place like the back of my hand. I’m really excited to see how this new car will handle the Knockhill circuit.”
Like he has all year so far, Turkington leads the field into Knockhill and sits 19-points ahead of Sutton at the top of the championship table.
“Knockhill is one of my favourite tracks and I have many good memories from my time as an instructor there,” explained Turkington. “It’s relentless though, and the car is on two wheels at several points. You have to attack to find the lap time, so you’re definitely outside your comfort zone, but that’s why drivers love it.
“At this stage the weather looks stable, so we should have consistent dry running, which will help in practice when dialling the car in. Qualifying will be key; finding space and maximising what can be achieved with 60kgs of success ballast. The plan is to get my head down and leave nothing on the table. I’m confident we can improve the car from last year and I’m happy with that.”
The BMW is notoriously very good at Knockhill with West Surrey Racing securing 11 race wins and 35 podiums there so far. They also currently lead both the team’s standings and the manufacturers title race too, so will be keen for another consistent weekend.
Header image courtesy of BTCC/Jakob Ebrey
By Jordan Hollands.