Jason Plato and Darren Turner will be going for gold when the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship arrives at Scotland’s National Motorsport Centre at Knockhill this weekend (August 16/17). Both SEAT Sport UK drivers have won there twice in recent years, so they hope the Leon TDI will carry them to more success in Rounds 22, 23 and 24 of the 2008 series.
The undulating 1.3 mile Knockhill track always produces great BTCC racing. Since SEAT Sport UK joined the series in 2004, eight different drivers have won the 12 BTCC races held there. Darren set a new qualifying lap record at Knockhill last year (53.007sec / 86.33mph) and won two out of the three races. Jason qualified on pole at Knockhill in 2006 and won the opening race, repeating his race winning success of 2004.
Jason and Darren qualified first and second at Knockhill in 2006, and if they do so again it will be a third straight all-SEAT Leon TDI front row, having qualified first and second at the previous two BTCC meetings at Oulton Park and Snetterton.
Jason Plato: “I’m confident we’ll go really well at Knockhill. We’ve proven that we can get the Leon TDI to work at circuits which have really important corners, and Knockhill is quite a technical circuit and needs a good chassis to win. We should be very quick out of the hairpin and up the hill with the torque of the diesel engine, and I think in the other corners we’ll be quick too. I want to get the car on pole position and I think me and Darren will have a good fight for that top spot. At this stage in the Championship, we’ve just got to go for race wins. We need Fabrizio Giovanardi to have a bad weekend, either some mechanical issues or get caught up in a tangle – but I have no control over that and to be fair I wouldn’t really want to see that happen. But if it did, we need to make sure that as a team we’re on top of our game and in a position to benefit from it. We need to go for race wins, and what will be will be.”
Darren Turner: “Knockhill was the highlight of my season last year, with pole, two wins and a solid seventh place finish in the third race. Will this year be as good with the Leon TDI? Knockhill certainly isn’t one of the fast circuits where we think the diesel package will excel, but we didn’t think Oulton Park would be either and we performed very well there. If we can perform like that in Scotland, we’ll be right up there challenging for races wins. Jason’s still got a slim chance of winning the Drivers’ title, and we need to make sure we’re in a position to benefit if Fabrizio Giovanardi has a bad weekend. If that happens at Knockhill, the Championship will look very different.”
Scott Dennis, SEAT UK Motorsport Manager: “With only nine races of the 2008 season left, success at Knockhill will be crucial if we are to keep our Championship aspirations alive. Jason currently trails Fabrizio Giovanardi by forty-four points in the Drivers’ Championship and the main priority will be for Jason to outscore him in all three races. Now that we understand the Leon TDI a little more I’m confident that we can hit the ground running on Saturday and be competitive in qualifying.”
The BTCC race weekend at Knockhill begins with two 40-minute free practice sessions on Saturday 16th August, starting at 09.30 and 12.15, followed by a 30-minute qualifying session starting at 16.00. Rounds 22, 23 and 24 of the BTCC take place on Sunday 17th August, with the three 24-lap races starting at 11.10, 13.50 and 16.30.
Uninterrupted TV coverage returns to ITV4, with live race day broadcasts from 12.30-17.30.