Britain’s fastest tintop drivers make their annual sojourn to the tight and twisty demands of the Knockhill circuit in Fife this weekend when the British Touring Car Championship rolls into town. And while double champ Fabrizio Giovanardi is determined to inch closer to a hat-trick of titles, two Scots are equally determined to stop him.
Fifers Gordon Shedden and Jonathan Adam both harbour realistic chances of upsetting the veteran Italian’s Vauxhall, and for both Scots the opportunity to fly the Saltire in front of their home fans is exciting.
“It’s Knockhill, so I’ve got to be excited,” 30-year-old Shedden admitted today. “I won here in 2007 when I was driving the Honda, so hopefully I can do it again.”
But the Dalgety Bay racer, a 10-race BTCC winner but who only returned to the championship in the last round at Snetterton driving the Seat Leon of Glasgow-based Clyde Valley Racing, admits things will be tough.
“In some ways I’m still learning the car, but the team have worked very, very hard to give me a car which is competitive,” Shedden, whose carbon-neutral team is backed by Cartridge World, continued.
“I was happy with what we achieved first time out two weeks ago. Although the best I managed was 10th, my lap times — once we got the car working the way I wanted it — were matching the guys up at the front of the field.
“Our problem was we started too far back on the grid after qualifying, but hopefully we can have the car set-up ideally for Knockhill where I believe the car will be better suited because of the tight, twisty nature of the track.”
Adam meanwhile, in his debut season in Britain’s premier saloon car championship, is dreaming of clinching his first BTCC win at his home track.
“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,” the 24-year-old BMW driver said.
“I think I can knock on the door of the top five at all the remaining rounds but of course, 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.”
Giovanardi meanwhile, champion in both 2007 and ‘08, comes to Knockhill trailing the BMW of former Knockhill race instructor, Northern Ireland’s Colin Turkington, by just 17 points after claiming two wins and a second at Snetterton.
“It would be great to repeat my Snetterton success at Knockhill,” the jovial Italian explained, “but I have to be realistic. At Knockhill anything can happen; it’s that kind of circuit. I love the place. I claimed Vauxhall’s 100th BTCC win here in 2006, so I know how to win in Scotland. And believe me, I’ll be doing everything I can to get ahead of Colin.”
Elsewhere in the race-packed weekend programme, Glyn Geddie will be looking to build on the coaching he has received from former Porsche Cup champ, Dunfermline’s Barry Horne, as the Aberdeen driver continues his winning debut season in Porches.
“Barry’s made such a difference to my pace and approach to racing,” the 19-year-old admitted. “He was a great champion and is still a fantastic driver. Now I want to become champion too.”