Well, happy to report a successful weekend at Knockhill, and I’m also happy to report three points-scoring finishes with strong top-ten finishes in both races 2 and 3.
Knockhill is traditionally difficult in qualifying as it is a short racing circuit and a pretty full field of 31 cars all trying to find that clear lap, so I had to settle for P12. I would have liked better, but of course it could have been worse! There was good pace in the car, I probably could, or should, have qualified better but a tenth of a second makes a huge difference around here because it is so close. I always race better than I qualify so I was quite happy going into the Sunday.
Race 1, from 12th on the grid, I was involved in the action from the moment that the lights went out. Blasting away from the grid, I got involved in an early-race fight with Mat Jackson, which forced me wide and I lost some ground. I had made a good start but the car was loose on cold tyres, so Gordon Shedden got past me and then Mat Jackson hit me at the hairpin. Despite the contact, the car didn’t suffer too much damage but I lost lots of places as the tightly-bunched pack swarmed past; but I kept pressing on and caught up the pack again. Then I got involved with Rob Collard who wanted to get past and that fight ran to the end. Thirteenth was not what we wanted.
Race 2, I made a strong start but Collard pushed me wide and then I got stuck behind Tom Ingram. We made contact at the hairpin and then we tangled again a few corners later but there wasn’t too much damage. Solid 10th place finish — we’re good for Race 3.
I made progress in Race 3 in which an early safety car period was actually a help. The car was feeling loose on the cold tyres and the safety car let me warm up the rubber without having to defend places. The car was much better after I’d got the heat into the tyres. I made a small mistake which let Adam Morgan by (in the sister Mercedes-Benz A-Class) but then I had a great battle with ex-Champion Andrew Jordan (Ford Focus) in which I had to defend like never before. I have never had to look in my mirrors so much!
Securing eighth place after such a strenuous defence, keeping Jordan at bay, both our cars were nose to tail for 20 laps — that was really hard! I slept well that night!
With Knockhill being such a tight and twisty, up and down, short circuit, a question I’m often asked is “how it feels to be up on two wheels?”, and as we have all seen, there is plenty of opportunity at the Scottish circuit! Usually it's fine, you just wait for the car to come back down and get on the power, and it feels surprisingly smooth compared to how it looks!
However, there is the odd time where it can feel like it has went a little too high and may not come back down, that can be scary! Especially when it happened at turn 1, Duffis Dip, and didn't land until half way down the hill!
As ever, I cannot thank everyone for their fantastic support, and it is greatly appreciated. See you all soon at the next stop for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship is at Rockingham, Northamptonshire, on August 27/28.