Fabrizio Giovanardi left the third British Touring Car Championship meeting of 2014 at Thruxton in a jubilant mood, after returning to the podium in race three for the first time since 2010 in his comeback to the series.
The former double BTCC champion enjoyed the best weekend of his comeback season with Motorbase Performance at the rapid Thruxton circuit, one he has previously tasted success at seven times in the championship.
Creeping into the top 10 in race two after 12th place qualifying and race one results, a return to the front of the field was the reward in the reverse-grid encounter as he snatched a hard-fought podium finish.
“You see that it is really difficult to stay in the first three positions, and I was in trouble in the last few laps”, said Giovanardi to The Checkered Flag after the final race.
“Because the circuit it so wide then you cannot close the line, so you have to make sure you don’t make any mistakes. So it was very hard, but it brings such satisfaction when you come out with something this good from it.”
Giovanardi ironically drew himself on pole position for the final race of the day – joking that he had employed slight of hand techniques – and a sensational start maintained that spot before the Ford driver lost out to the eventual winner, Colin Turkington, at Goodwood on the opening lap.
The Motorbase man then held on under pressure from series leader Andrew Jordan for the final place on the podium, as degrading tyres saw him surrender a place to team-mate Mat Jackson in the dying stages of a fine weekend for the Kent-based Ford squad at Hampshire.
“I’m a lot more comfortable. Not because I finished third, but I’m starting to understand these cars better”, he added after joining his team-mate Jackson on the podium.
“[Jackson] was faster than me, so we have to be clever and not fight each other because if you start fighting each other, then the others guys are already coming for you.”
The rostrum finish marks the first podium finish for the Italian in BTCC since his last appearance at the very same circuit in 2010, when he won twice for Triple Eight in a Vauxhall Vectra during a one-off appearance. Giovanardi admitted that he is enjoying his venture back to British soil, and relishing the competition alongside old friends and adversaries.
“It feels the same, with people like Matt Neal and [Jason] Plato still here. It’s a great championship, and it’s not easy; if you are going to an easy championship then it’s boring, so to be here again is fun.”