The latest BTCC round was at my home circuit, Knockhill. I had loads of friends, family and other guests there so I was hoping for a decent result.
The weekend started with me taking part in the Jim Clark parade across the Forth Road Bridge in my BTCC Toyota Avensis. As one of four Scottish drivers in the BTCC at the moment, it was a real privilege to be asked to be involved. You can see the onboard footage of my crossing on the United Autosports YouTube page – www.youtube.com/unitedautosports
I was eager to get back in the car on Saturday as I’d not driven it since the previous round at Snetterton. I’d also been to watch my dad, Jim, race the McLaren in the GT Cup at Silverstone the weekend before Knockhill (he won two out of the three races and came third in the other) so I was keen to get back out on a track myself. Free practice started the weekend well.
I finished fifth, which got me pumped up for the rest of the day. As qualifying came I was feeling confident. Qualifying is something we have tried to work on improving so we stand a better chance during the races.
I was running consistently in the top half of the field but we just missed out on our first top-10 qualifying result on Saturday (finishing 11th). Luckily for us Rob Collard got penalised so that bumped me up to 10th, which was my and the team’s first top-10 start of the year. I was so happy to have achieved that in front of my home crowd.
Lots of drivers will aim for points and stay clear of trouble when they’re in that sort of position, but for me, any chance I have to get ahead of somebody I’m going to take.
As race day arrived, so had the sun (which is rare for Knockhill). All I had to do was try to keep the car in the top-10 and avoid any problems. I managed to do that for the first half of race one and even made it up to ninth until Nick Foster hit me from behind and pushed my car off the track, and that was pretty much game over. I clawed a few places back but finished the race in 20th.
Starting race two that far down the grid made it impossible to achieve what we wanted. All hope of a top-10 finish were wiped out for the rest of the weekend. If I could have finished ninth in race one, I might have been able to work my way further up the grid in race two and with the reverse-grid rule for race three, who knows what could have been.
Although the weekend sounds like a negative, there are definitely positive aspects to take from it. The fact we reached our goal of qualifying in the top 10 is great for the team and for me. It gives us the confirmation that we have the ability and the car behind us – something we knew but felt we had to prove. There are always going to be collisions and accidents in the BTCC, it’s the nature of the championship. I just wish they would involve someone else for a change.
The Toyota is not quite a winning car at the moment, but we’ve been doing everything we can to get the best out of it and it’s starting to work now.
My car was pretty bashed up after the Knockhill weekend so the team have a fair bit of work to do to get it looking as spot on as it usually does with just two weeks until Rockingham.
I have a great team of guys working on my car so I’m sure they’ll sort it. I’m now working hard on my preparation for the next races at Rockingham. See you all there.
(With special thanks to United Autosports and Glynn Geddie)