SEAT Sport UK drivers Jason Plato and Rob Huff face a stiff challenge when they attempt to tame the Knockhill rollercoaster circuit in Rounds 19, 20 and 21 of the Green Flag MSA British Touring Championship, which take place on Sunday 8th August. Having scored spectacular back-to-back one-two race wins at the previous BTCC meeting at Croft, the team will start from scratch in Scotland as it uses the free practice sessions to gather data from the undulating circuit. This will determine a qualifying set-up for the teamís pair of success-ballasted Toledo Cupras, while the grid positions will influence race day strategy.
Rob will have a different race engineer at Knockhill as his regular engineer, Dave Benbow, is unable to attend owing to a prior engagement. Duncan Laycock will stand in as his replacement. As usual, Eddie Hinckley will be Jasonís race engineer.
Situated close to Dunfermline in the Kingdom of Fife, Knockhill is unique as it sits on a Scottish hillside 800 feet above the Forth Estuary and has a mysterious microclimate which often makes driving conditions difficult. With a varying gradient of steep uphill and downhill climbs, sharp corners and few overtaking opportunities, itís a challenging circuit that demands the respect of drivers. Both Jason and Rob have enjoyed racing there in the past and look forward to giving their SEAT Toldeo Cupras their first sprint on Scottish asphalt.
Rob said: ďFor me Knockhill is a bit like Croft as Iíve always gone really well there. I had two wins there in Formula Vauxhall Junior and finished second in a Clio race, just two tenths off the leader. I havenít got a great amount of experience of the circuit, so Iíll be looking to Mr. Gordon Shedden to help me out a little bit during the week! After the teamís dream weekend at Croft Iím aiming to go one better personally and get my first BTCC win. To be fair itís going to be a difficult track for us, but we didnít think the Toledo would suit Thruxton or Mondello Park, and look what happened there.
ďIf your car is set up well for Knockhill itís a very enjoyable track to drive, but if itís not then itís probably one of the most awful tracks youíll ever drive on because there are some serious downhills, uphills and some fairly sharp turns. There are also some quick direction changes in the chicanes and thatís where our car will be strong, so hopefully weíll have another good weekend.Ē
Jason said: ďKnockhill will be a real challenge for us and we will need a lot of luck and our race strategy to work perfectly again if we are to win. Personally I love racing at Knockhill. You have to be a bit of an animal and very aggressive over the kerbs, and I think the Toledoís chassis will be good there. Braking from very high speed for the sharp corners with our smaller brakes and accelerating uphill out of the hairpin could be difficult, but weíll have to see. Itís very difficult to overtake there, so once ahead, defending a lead isnít a big problem.Ē
The BTCC race weekend at Knockhill gets underway with two 40 minute free practice sessions on Saturday 7th August, starting at 10.20 and 13.00, followed by a 30 minute qualifying session starting at 15.50. Rounds 19, 20 and 21 of the BTCC then take place on Sunday 8th August, with three 22 lap races starting at 11.00, 13.50 and 16.10.