BTCC Preview: BMR Battle Heads North To Knockhill


Jason Plato and Colin Turkington prepare to do battle once again as BMR Racing head the field to Scotland and the seventh Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship meeting of the 2015 season at Knockhill.

The small, undulating 1.2-mile strip of Fife tarmac is a rollercoaster ride that greets BTCC competitors with a challenge of their own commitment, creating a spectacular image for the fans and a tough task for those in the driving seat of the current era’s tin-top machinery.

The track is home to local favourite, Gordon Shedden, the Scot hopeful of putting behind him a meeting filled with what he described as “the worst luck” in his BTCC career at Snetterton, as the Honda Yuasa Racing team lost the series lead to their rivals at Volkswagen and BMR.

Big BMR Battle Brewing

A fine weekend conversely for Warren Scott‘s outfit in Norfolk two weekends ago has lifted their championship-winning duo of Jason Plato and Colin Turkington to the head of the standings, the latter jumping three spots to sit just 14 points adrift of his team-mate heading North.

Craig Turkington 2015 Snetterton Sunday
Photo: Craig McAllister

That came after a brace of victories from pole position to add to the reigning champion’s Donington success, meaning that the BMR pair will however carry 75kg and 66kg extra ballast in their Volkswagen CC machines at a Knockhll circuit that rewards a nimble chassis.

Turkington wowed here in the past two seasons with West Surrey Racing, but only has two wins to his name at Knockhill, both of which came with a WSR BMW back in his comeback season of 2013.

Meanwhile, team-mate Plato holds the most Knockhill wins on the grid with eight to his name, albeit the last of them came back in 2010, when he last won the title with Chevrolet and RML.

Honda Must Hit Back

Photo: btcc.net
Photo: btcc.net

Amazingly, Shedden himself has not won here since 2011 with Honda, but will want to add to his tally of three badly in 2015 after slipping from 10 points ahead of Plato to 32 behind after Snetterton.

The problems emerged firstly from power steering problems in qualifying, buried in the pack where contact with team-mate Matt Neal caused significant enough damage to both Civics in race two to end in a double retirement.

Neal was a winner here last season, the race one victory being the only one of a difficult 2014 campaign as he shared success with Mat Jackson and Rob Collard on that day 12 months ago.

Knockhill Is BMW Territory

 

Above Photos: BTCC Media

The latter also endured a horrific weekend at Snetterton, but it is no secret that Collard is a big fan of the Fife circuit…and the results very much show that.

The WSR man has previously taken four of his 10 BTCC wins right here at Knockhill, and is bound to be one of the favourites this weekend with a BMW 125i that is expected to be dominant.

The German marque’s grasp on Knockhill has seen them take victories in five of the last BTCC nine races held at the circuit, making this visit a vital one for Dick Bennetts’ squad.

Photo: Craig McAllister
Photo: Craig McAllister

Collard’s WSR team-mate Andy Priaulx told TCF that he believes the BMW outfit will take big points out of the BMR boys in Fife meanwhile, both himself and C0llard now counting themselves out of the title hunt.

Not doing so however is their team-mate Sam Tordoff, who sits just 39 points behind Plato, the Leeds racer very much a key figure to look out for having shown his pace at Croft – the last event that suited the rear-wheel drive BMW significantly over its rivals.

Priaulx meanwhile returns to the circuit he last won at in BTCC back in 2002, under conditions that were more suited to an Olympic sailing event rather than a motor race.

The Guernseyman will be a spoiler again in 2015, currently the man in the best form of all having scored 93 points in the last six races – three more than nearest rival, Turkington.

MG And Ford Want Wins

Photo: Craig McAllister
Photo: Craig McAllister

MG have not won a race here since Collard’s 2005 triumph 10 years ago, a race tainted by incidents elsewhere including a spate between Neal and Plato. The Triple Eight squad however enter in a buoyant mood after Jack Goff picked up their first win of the season last time out, the former Renault UK Clio Cup champion’s first in the sport.

Andrew Jordan has only claimed one win at Knockhill in the past, but remains looking for an elusive first win of 2015 despite lying fifth in the standings.

As mentioned, Ford meanwhile won here with Jackson last season, a result the Motorbase Performance squad want a repeat of after their first meeting back in the BTCC. Jackson broke into the top 10 after a difficult Snetterton qualifying, while team-mate James Cole insists that better Saturday performance is key.

Abbott And Welch Feature

btcc.net
btcc.net

Hunter Abbott will make a surprise visit to Knockhill for Rob Austin Racing, originally planning to miss the meeting which potentially clashed with the birth of wife Susie’s first child.

Derek Palmer and Robb Holland both scored fine points finishes for Support Our Paras Racing and Handy Motorsport respectively at Snetterton, while Welch Motorsport have had one of their TBLs withdrawn by series organisers, TOCA, Dan Welch returning to fight on for the Proton squad.

Nic Hamilton will also not be present, with the AmD Tuning driver returning to the action at Rockingham, meaning 28 cars are set to contest the Scotland visit.

Weather and Timetable

After sun-kissed conditions greeted fans at Snetterton, unfortunately the forecasts hint of a wet weekend in Fife across the weekend.

Despite temperatures of up to 19℃ also tipped at this still-early stage mid-week, it would be best advised to prepare for conditions to worsen as the BTCC visit nears.

Saturday:

Free practice one – 09:30
Free practice two – 12:15
Qualifying – 15:05

Sunday:

Race one – 11:45
Race two – 14:17
Race three – 17:07

(All times provisional)

TCF will bring you all the action from the BTCC and support championship paddocks at Knockhill, which you can keep up to date with right here at www.thecheckeredflag.co.uk, or via Twitter at @tcfBTCC.