• Gordon Shedden gunning for glory in front of partisan home fans
• Spectacular ‘rollercoaster ride’ awaits ‘Flash’ and team-mate Matt Neal
• Honda Yuasa Racing eager to repeat strong previous form north of the border
Honda Yuasa Racing star Gordon Shedden is confident of sending his throngs of supporters home happy as the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship heads north of the border to his local circuit of Knockhill.
Shedden has already tallied three career triumphs at the popular Fife venue – one he likens to ‘a rollercoaster ride’ – and impressively, has finished on the podium there in almost half of the races he has contested. More of the same would be very welcome next weekend (23-24 August), as he bids to close in on the top of the BTCC title standings.
“It’s the one time each year that I get the opportunity to race in front of my home crowd, and I’d be lying if I said that didn’t make a difference,” mused ‘Flash’ who sits second in the drivers’ classification following the most recent outing at Snetterton, just 23 points shy of the championship lead. “Scottish fans love their motorsport, and touring car racing has been a big part of that in the country over the decades.
“The atmosphere around the circuit is second-to-none. The crowds get so close to the action they can almost touch the cars as they speed around the lap, which is just incredible. Their support does give you an extra spring in your step and is sometimes capable of making extraordinary things happen.
“Knockhill couldn’t be more different to Snetterton in terms of the type of circuit that it is; it’s an absolute rollercoaster ride that goes up-and-down and sends cars airborne on two wheels over the kerbs. That requires massive commitment and means you can’t relax for even a moment, which is what generates such exciting racing.
“We are hopeful of being more competitive than we were at Snetterton, and the Civic Tourer’s excellent brakes and high-speed stability will certainly play a role in that. It will be interesting to see how it all stacks up. The target is a big points haul, and I’m definitely going there with my eyes on the prize.”
Team-mate Matt Neal is a four-time winner around the challenging Scottish circuit, and after returning to the rostrum at Snetterton for the first time in almost three months, the triple BTCC Champion is eager to savour the champagne again next weekend.
“Knockhill is a great venue and being the only track the championship visits in Scotland, we always receive a warm welcome – particularly ‘Flash’!” he reflected. “It’s a tight-and-twisty little circuit with plenty of undulation, which makes it a lot of fun from both a driver and spectator point-of-view.
“I’ve gone well at Knockhill in the past, and being light in qualifying there could make a real difference this year, because there will be literally nothing to separate the front-runners around such a short lap where track position is key. As at Snetterton, my primary objective will be to support ‘Flash’ as best I can.”
Honda regained the advantage in the manufacturers’ battle at Snetterton, and Honda Yuasa Racing Technical Director Barry Plowman admits that as the 2014 campaign revs up towards what promises to be a show-stopping conclusion, Knockhill could prove to be a critical phase in the chase for the crown.
“This is the business end of the season, and the time to really knuckle down and dig deeper than ever to make sure we put 100 per cent effort into winning the drivers’, teams’ and manufacturers’ championships,” he asserted. “The crowd is always right behind ‘Flash’ at Knockhill, and he has more experience of driving round there than anybody else on the grid, which can only help.
“He is very much in the title hunt, whilst Matt is set to play an increasingly important supportive role as we head into the final four meetings. Both drivers are pushing the car to the absolute limit every time they leave the garage and fighting for every last position and point available.
“The Civic hatch always performed well at Knockhill, and whilst on paper the nature of the circuit perhaps doesn’t look as well-suited to the longer Civic Tourer, this car has proven itself everywhere we have been so far this season. It is definitely capable of springing a few more surprises north of the border.”
All the action will be broadcast live and in high-definition on ITV4 on Sunday, 24 August. The three BTCC races get underway at 11:45, 14:15 and 17:05.