The 2012 British Touring Car Championship heads across the border and into Scotland for rounds 19, 20 and 21 of the season with Honda leading the way.
Snetterton saw the resumption of the season after the seven week summer break and it was Jason Plato in the MG KX Momentum Racing MG6 GT who made the most of the trip to Norfolk as he took his third victory of the season plus two other podiums to close in on the two Honda Yuasa Racing Team drivers.
Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden both encountered problems around the Snetterton 300 circuit, with Shedden having a fire at the end of the opening practice session and issues in qualifying left him at the back of the field.
Neal arrives in Scotland with the Championship advantage after local driver Shedden was excluded from the final race of the day due to an over boosting issue on the #52 Honda Civic.
All this allowed Plato to close to within ten points of Neal at the head of the Championship while the Pirtek Racing Honda Civic of Andrew Jordan also closed the advantage with his first victory of the season.
Jordan was also able to extend his advantage in the Independent Trophy standings; his advantage over nearest rival Rob Collard in the WSR run eBay Motors is now 48 points.
The Knockhill circuit is expected to favour the Honda Civic as it is a tight, twisty, undulating circuit which favours the more nimble car and the NGTC Civic is known for its handling capabilities, while the deficit in top end speed isn’t as crucial as the circuit only features one main straight.
Andy Neate in the #44 MG KX Momentum Racing MG6 GT and Jeff Smith in the #55 Pirtek Racing Honda Civic are yet to match the performance shown by their team-mates
After his Snetterton nightmare, Collard will look to bounce back at the circuit where he took his first BTCC victory back in 2005 – driving a WSR MG ZS. Knockhill has never been a kind circuit to the BMW’s so a repeat performance is unlikely.
eBay Motors team-mate Tom Onslow-Cole is rapidly catching Collard, after a sluggish start to the season. Onslow-Cole has found some form and has secured a podium finish in each of the last three race weekends’ while Nick Foster has struggled to replicate his 2011 performances in the #18 eBay Motors BMW 320si.
The biggest surprise from the Snetterton weekend was the debut of the Redstone Racing NGTC Ford Focus ST for Mat Jackson. The car was only completed Saturday morning and turned a wheel for the first time in Free Practice 1.
Redstone Racing is running two cars this weekend, with Aron Smith in the S2000 version of the car while Liam Griffin sits out the Scottish weekend. Griffin will rejoin the series at Rockingham in the S2000 car which Jackson vacated for the NGTC car.
Jackson could cause a surprise this weekend if the form he showed at Snetterton continues while another local driver, Team ES Racing.com Dave Newsham will look to back up his Snetterton victory with another strong weekend at Knockhill. Newsham’s team-mate at Team ES Racing.com, Chris James, will look for three solid finishes in the #78 Vauxhall Vectra.
Having taken his best result of the season at Snetterton, Frank Wrathall returns to the scene of his maiden podium finish, having finished third in the second and third races. Wrathall also secured his maiden Pole Position at Snetterton and will be looking to take his first victory at Knockhill, after Julian Bailey won in 1993 at the wheel of a Toyota Carina.
Speedworks Motorsport also head north looking for strong results after Adam Morgan secured his and the teams’ best qualifying result with a top five start in Norfolk, as well as securing his maiden top ten finish in the final encounter.
Tony Hughes sits out the trip to Fife due to business commitments and will be replaced by Paul O’Neill, who will be looking for big things in the #29 Toyota Avensis.
After securing his career best qualifying result and a strong run in the opening race at Snetterton, Dan Welch in the Welch Motorsport Proton Persona could cause a surprise around Knockhill while Lea Wood is making the trip to Fife for the first time in the Binz Racing Vauxhall Vectra. Wood was denied a maiden podium finish at Snetterton after gearbox issues.
Rob Austin Racing, AmDTuning.com and Thorney Motorsport have all confirmed that they will miss the trip to Scotland so they can get their cars sorted ahead of the final three events of the season.
Tony Gilham will still be present at Knockhill as he oversees Robb Holland in the Team HARD Honda Civic in what is due to be the Americans’ final appearance in the 2012 British Touring Car Championship.
So 19 cars will take to the grid at Knockhill, all looking to defeat the Hondas’ and MG’s and give themselves a piece of the limelight.
TouringCars.net will have full coverage of rounds 19, 20 and 21 from Knockhill, with live updates via the official Touring-Cars.net Twitter feed: @touringcarsnet.
The opening Free Practice session due to get underway at 09.35 Saturday morning. The second 40 minute practice session gets underway at 12:10 before the 30 minute qualifying session at 15:05.
Round 19 of the 2012 campaign is due to get underway at 11:45 on Sunday, with round 20 starting at 14:17 and round 21 at 17:07. All three races are due to run over 24 laps.
Touring-Cars.net Knockhill Predictions:
Pole Position: Andrew Jordan
Race 1: 1. Andrew Jordan, 2. Matt Neal, 3. Gordon Shedden
Race 2: 1. Gordon Shedden, 2. Matt Neal, 3. Jason Plato
Race 3 Pole Position: Paul O’Neill
Race 3: 1. Mat Jackson, 2. Dave Newsham, 3. Frank Wrathall
Fastest Lap: Jason Plato