Highlands BTCC adventure beckons for EXCELR8 Motorsport
EXCELR8 Motorsport is set to continue its British Touring Car Championship learning curve north of the Scottish border this weekend as the series heads for its annual visit to the tricky Knockhill circuit.
The weekend will be a challenging one for the team, with almost all factions of the squad being completely new to the picturesque fife track. EXCELR8 has never before run cars at the venue, and neither of its BTCC drivers – Rob Smith and Sam Osborne – has ever raced at the track before.
Regardless, the team heads north keen to get back on track with its twin MG6 GTs after some strong outings during recent BTCC rounds. EXCELR8 scored its first BTCC points immediately after the summer break at Snetterton, courtesy of Osborne’s 14th spot in race three. And the most recent visit to Thruxton also showed marked progress, with Smith pulling clear of the gaggle of cars at the back and pushing well toward the midfield as the team showed it has really started to unlock those final few tenths from the setup that prove so crucial to success in the BTCC.
Knockhill will be something of a reset for the team, which will have a lot of learning to do across Saturday’s free practice sessions. But all members say they are excited for the challenge ahead.
Rob Smith says: “Knockhill is a completely new challenge and I think we’re all going into this weekend a bit green, but that doesn’t mean to say we’ve not been doing our homework. I’ve been watching loads of video, usually starring Gordon Shedden doing some instructing to pick up a few tips, and also I’ve done three or four really useful simulator sessions, so I have a feel for where we’ll be going. It’s a really demanding track, with a lot of elevation changes and tight corners. Getting a stable car that’s good on the kerbs will be key as all of the fastest turns there involve some form of kerb-hopping for the quickest lines. I learn new tracks pretty fast, so I can’t wait to get going.”
Sam Osborne adds: “I’m really excited for my first visit to Knockhill, but from what I can see the track looks really tough. It’s a sub-minute lap and we have 30 cars on the grid, so there won’t be much chance for completely clear laps. There’s also a lot of drops and elevation changes, which look like great fun. We’ll continue to work on the setup of the MG across Saturday and see where it takes us. From my point of view getting the rear-end stable will be stage one, and there will be a lot of time for me to find as I bed in with the circuit. It’ll be important to stay out of trouble and get as much experience there as we can over the two days.”
EXCELR8 team manager Oliver Shepherd adds: “Knockhill is completely new to all of us, so we’re really going in with an open book and just see where the weekend takes us. There’s no expectations or goals for this one, we’re there purely to learn and test ourselves. The track looks great and it seems to favour those with nimble cars that can change direction well to get out of the tighter corners, yet also be soft enough to comfortable ride the bumps and kerbs that are a feature of the track. It’s always exciting to go to somewhere new and get out of your comfort zone, so we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Qualifying for the eighth round of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship is scheduled for 1500hrs on Saturday, September 14, with Sunday’s first race starting at 1145. Race two is at 1415, with the final outing slated for 1705. All races will be shown live via ITV4, and live timing will be available all weekend via TSL-timing.com.