The wonders of Knockhill
The Scottish round of the BTCC has always been my favourite to venture too. Whether its the additional travelling, the beautiful countryside or simply being reunited with the stunning Knockhill circuit with its twists and turns, it never ceases to impress.
This year was no different, encountering all possible weather conditions, the circuits motto was indeed correct:
“If you can’t see the mountain it’s raining, if you can, it’s about to rain”
The scenic drive through the Scottish countryside on the route in suggests a calming, rural life. This is awakened by the distinct sounds of the NGTC engines roaring into life to make their way into the pitlane for scrutineering, creating the perfect soundtrack as their sound echoes off the mountainside and get you in the spirit for a weekends racing.
Each of the drivers/teams appear to hold a similar fondness for the Scottish circuit, with its unique paddock meaning the proximity between teams and fans is closer than ever. From a spectator point of view, the circuit offers some of the best views on the calendar, with certain vantage points offering a view of almost half of the circuit:
The BTCC championship begins to unfold
With only a handful of circuits left on the calendar, Round 7 was make-or-break for many drivers 2017 championship bids. One man, Jason Plato, would overcome his year-long woes to claim his 50th pole position on Saturday, before clinching his first win of the season on Sunday. Teammate and boy-wonder Ash Sutton would follow this up with a win in Race 2, while Tom Ingram would round out the day with his first win since Donington Park, way back in April.
Speaking with Tom after the final race, he simply had two words to describe how it felt to stand on the top step once again; “F**king awesome!”. After being plagued with bad luck during the middle of the season he felt rejuvenated in his Toyota Avensis, ready to get back into the title hunt as the championship heads to Rockingham.
It’s not only racing drivers you get to mingle with at BTCC race weekends, YouTube star Shmee150 joined Dunlop as an invited guest and I able to offer him advice on handing out the presentation trophies ahead of the final race podium. His jet-set lifestyle is certainly one to be admired, having arrived in an Aston Martin GT8 and leaving that night to spend the day on Monday filming with Lamborghini’s in the Scottish Highlands.
Staying in style – the best hotel on the BTCC calendar
Over my years travelling around the country with the touring car championship I have stayed in some rather odd, or dingy, hotels, thankfully the Queensferry Fife Hotel was not one of them. A pleasure to return too after a day at the circuit, I’d highly recommend it as a place to stay for anyone making the journey up to Knockhill. With exceedingly friendly staff and exceptional food it is the perfect place to unwind. Plus being just 15 minutes from the circuit, and only 9 miles from Edinburgh airport, it’s also perfectly situated.
A childhood dream come true
As mentioned in my first blog, I spent my childhood either in the grandstands or glued to my TV watching any form of motorsport I could. So being given the opportunity to work with Gordon Shedden on Dunlop’s latest campaign, #InTheDrivingSeat, ignited the inner-child in me who was now working alongside one of the drivers he had cheered on for so long. Although many fans don’t like him and the Honda outfit within the paddock, I feel these fans have not had the chance see the real ‘Flash’, a genuinely nice guy who wanted to offer as much advice as possible to the winners of the driving experience to ensure they had the best day possible.
As part of filming the experience I was able to have a few hot laps in the Honda Civic Type R myself, a machine that is simply built for the track, along with special Dunlop Sport Maxx Race tyres which allowed you to hug any apex you threw the car against. Once each of the winners had completed their experiences, Gordon took us out to show us how Knockhill is really supposed to be driven, you can view a 360 degree lap here! A truly unforgettable experience!
With only three rounds left of the 2017 season, be sure to check back for my blog at Rockingham Motor Speedway this weekend as I spend the weekend with Speedworks Motorsport’s Tom Ingram!