Classic BTCC – Knockhill

With a handful of drivers seperated by almost nothing in the standings, the 2011 British Touring Car Championship is shaping up nicely with four rounds to go, and the next stop for the series will be to Scotland and Knockhill circuit – a small ribbon of road that offers arguably one of the most exciting events on the calendar as these classic races should prove.

2006, race 2 – Giovanardi’s gutsy defence for Vauxhall’s 100th win

The second race at Knockhill in 2006 was one of the most memorable at the circuit, lead away by the Vauxhall of Fabrizio Giovanardi, both still without a win that year in what was the Italian’s first season. But the way he had to hang onto the lead kept everyone on the edge of their seats…

(Originally uploaded to Youtube by )

Giovanardi’s Vauxhall Astra Sports Hatch appeared significantly slower than his rivals behind him after getting past Jason Plato’s SEAT for the lead, and championship leader Matt Neal then came to blows with his big rival Plato on lap eight as he dived up the inside at Clark curve and tagged the SEAT into a slide down the order.

Mike Jordan and Gordon Shedden then came together fighting for second which left Darren Turner in the other SEAT and Neal to attack Giovanardi for the lead. Despite being slower than his rivals, Giovanardi placed his car in all the right places as Turner and Neal both took it in turns to try and go around the outside, inside or over the top of the Vauxhall, swapping second place themselves as they found themselves blocked by Giovanardi at nearly every corner.

The field had now bottled together which allowed Neal’s Honda team-mate Shedden to close on them along with Gavin Smith, Tom Chilton and Plato all joinging the battle. However it all ended in tears when the pack slowed themselves attacking Giovanardi through the fast chicane as Smith clipped the rear of Shedden’s Honda and spun him hard into the barriers.

As the field started the last lap Giovanardi still held onto the lead valiantly, but was slow through Clark curve and the bottleneck caused a domino effect as Plato ran into the rear of Neal and spun the Honda around in the middle of the track, where they were both collected by Jordan and Chilton.

Giovanardi – ahead of the drama – somehow held on to take a sensational first BTCC race win and Vauxhall’s special and long-awaited 100th win, whilst in amongst what Tim Harvey described as “a touring car graveyard”, Plato ended up in the gravel with three wheels on his wrecked Leon while Neal got going again in the seemingly indestructable Honda Integra to finish in the top 10, where the reverse grid helped him crucially win the third race of the day to cement a handy championship lead.

2004 – Reid wins two in a superb day of racing

The 2004 season featured many thrillers with a field full of such quality and cars that had very little between them, and the trio of races that took place at Knockhill that year were three of the most exciting of them all.  

(Originally uploaded to Youtube by )

You literally did not know where to look – whether it was Vauxhall’s Yvan Muller and James Thompson both sufferring offs in the middle of some fierce battles, SEAT’s Jason Plato and Rob Huff offering plenty of excitement, Tom Chilton’s crowd-pleasing two-wheeled antics, and of course Scotland’s Anthony Reid giving the home fans plenty to cheer about with two fantastic wins that brought him into title contention.

1998 – Warwick wins rain-hit crash fest

Ex-Formula 1 driver Derek Warwick was often prone to his fair share of bad luck in the sport, and his move to the BTCC in 1995 saw the same trend seemingly continue as he got to grips with the touring car scene. But Derek does have one race victory to his name in the BTCC, and it came in the rain at Knockhill in 1998.

 (Originally uploaded to Youtube by)

Part 2:

Many drivers were caught out by the conditions, including Warwick’s team-mate John Cleland who was one of the many that ended up in the tyre barriers as the race started in the dry before the rain came on lap one and turned everything on it’s head.

Warwick had started way down the field, but through tyre strategy and incidents throughout the field Warwick was imperious when out front and went on to claim one of the most popular victories of the season.

And finally I can’t forget…

1994 – Gabrielle Tarquini’s spectacular exit

The 1994 season was all about the dominance of Tarquini and Alfa Romeo, all be it plagued early in the year by controversy as the Alfa 155 model was the only car to have a full aero package with it’s front splitter and rear wing, made legal as their 155 road cars all came with the rear spoiler as an included addon placed in the boot. The team could therefore use it, giving them the handling performance over their rivals.

(Originally uploaded to Youtube by )

But by the time the series hit Scotland the Alfas were finally being reeled in. Then at Knockhill, buried mid-pack and off the pace, Tarquini felt the pressure and early in the race he was clipped by Tim Harvey’s Renault Laguna into a dramatic rollover that wrecked the eventual champion’s Alfa Romeo.

Cue brilliant commentary as ever from the legend that is Murray Walker.


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