Friday 2 September 2011

Scotland the Brave?

Has anyone else noticed a distinctly scottish flavour to Overdrive Recently? Maybe it's because Scotland has produced many top class drivers and talent - Despite having only one racing circuit,  Knockhill in Fife. Although the thousands of miles of prime rally territory more than makes up for the lack of circuit racing venues!

Or maybe it's because the BTCC is at said racing circuit this weekend?

Whatever the reason. Here's some Scottish drivers doing rather well in the BTCC, which just so happens to be in Scotland this weekend. Okay... I'll stop now!


Gordon Shedden takes the chequred flag at Snetterton in his Honda Civic

Gordon Shedden will arrive at his home circuit of Knockhill this weekend (3-4 Sept) knowing he’s now the most successful Scottish driver in terms of race wins to contest the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.

Fife racer Shedden’s latest victory, achieved at the Snetterton circuit in Norfolk in early August, was the 18th of his career – one more than John Cleland who won the BTCC title twice in 1989 and 1995. Other Scottish greats to have tasted race victory in the BTCC since its inception in 1958 include Anthony Reid (15 wins), David Leslie and Tom Walkinshaw (9) and, Champion in 1964, Jim Clark (8).

Shedden, from Dalgety Bay, will go into his home event lying second overall in the current BTCC standings. He briefly led the table – the first time in his career that he had done so – after the second of three races at Snetterton only to then slip behind Airwaves Ford driver Mat Jackson in the third. Breathing down their necks in the chase for the title are double champions both, Shedden’s Honda Racing team-mate Matt Neal and Silverline Chevrolet’s Jason Plato.

Another win to help best John Cleland's total.
Shedden, aged 32, told “To have beaten John’s tally is very special – he was my childhood hero when I came to watch the BTCC at Knockhill as a kid in the Nineties. In fact he was a hero for the whole of Scotland – every household knew his name. But while the wins record is nice, John is still two championships up on me so I’ve got some way to go yet before I can genuinely say I’ve equalled his achievements.

“Obviously I’ve got myself into a great position for this season. A lot of that is down to much greater consistency in terms of finishes and picking up the points. Of course I want to win each race but sometimes you have to take what else is on offer.”

Indeed Shedden will arrive at Knockhill eight points adrift of leader Jackson. That is nothing by BTCC standards considering there are 15 points awarded per race win and some 12 races still to go this season (with three each at Knockhill, then Rockingham in Northants, Brands Hatch in Kent and, finally in mid-October, Silverstone in Northants).

Shedden added: “No one driver is going to win the title at Knockhill this weekend but they could easily lose it – just look how quickly it turned again at Snetterton where I led the thing for about two hours! After all there’s more than a third of the season – 12 of the 30 races – still to go and my season isn’t wholly dependant on a ballistic weekend at Knockhill.

“I actually think the Chevrolets of Jason and his team-mate Alex MacDowall will be dynamite around Knockhill – the Chevrolet is lighter than our Civic and Jackson’s Ford. The top five in the championship will all start the weekend with success ballast in their cars whereas MacDowall will have zero ballast so he should qualify on pole position and win race one.

Shedden speeds past banks of spectators. 
“But it will ebb and flow throughout the three races on Sunday as the ballasts are shifted about according to people’s finishing positions in each race. That always keeps the racing close – it’s a trademark of the BTCC – and at Knockhill, because of the track lay-out, this is usually one of the closest and most unpredictable days of the season.

“It’s easy to say because I compete in it but, looking at other sports or events, I’d have to say the BTCC makes for one of the most exciting family days out imaginable. The racing is sensational and it’s all done in cars that look like the family saloon or hatchback. The crowds are huge, the atmosphere is always electric and the other big bonus for the public is that they can meet the stars of the show with autograph sessions and an open paddock. Plus at Knockhill you can get so close to the edge of the track you can literally touch the cars… a bit different from Formula One.”

While Shedden and Inverness’s Dave Newsham, in his Special Tuning Racing SEAT Leon, are sure to be the crowd’s favourites in Knockhill’s three headline BTCC races this Sunday (4 Sept), another eight supporting races are also on the bill to further keep spectators entertained. In action will be the Ginetta Junior, Ginetta GT Supercup and Porsche Carrera Cup and guesting Scottish Classic Sports and Saloons and Mini Cooper Cup championships.

Shedden will hope to lead the pack again at Knockhill
Lining up on the grid in the Ginetta GT Supercup and competing on home ground for the first time in a decade will be Edinburgh’s Marino Franchitti – brother of three-time IndyCar Champion and twice Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti and himself a successful racer in the American Le Mans sportscar series. One to watch in Porsches is Kirckaldy’s Rory Butcher – son of circuit owner Derek Butcher and who has delivered several top-class performances already this season.

Tickets for Knockhill’s big BTCC weekend (3-4 Sept) will remain on sale at advance prices right up to this Friday (2 Sept). Prices for the main race day (Sun) are £25 per adult while admission for children aged 12 and under is free all weekend. For details on other ticket offers including concessions contact or call the circuit on 01383 723337.

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