Saloon success can aid Simon

SIMON Blanckley is hoping past dominance at the Snetterton circuit during his saloon car days will help his independent team grab some glory in the BTCC this weekend.

SIMON Blanckley is hoping past dominance at the Snetterton circuit during his saloon car days will help his independent team grab some glory in the BTCC this weekend.

Despite his relative inexperience in racing terms, the North-East driver was in total control during his last visit to Snetterton in 2006. Racing in the LMA Euro Saloons championship, driving one of his ex-BTCC Honda Accord ‘Super Tourers’, Blanckley qualified on pole with a record series lap and won the race comfortably.

While he understands the challenge of competing with some of the world’s best drivers in the BTCC is very different to that which he faced last year, he is looking to fire his sibsport team up the rankings with a points finish in at least one of this weekend’s rounds.

He said: “2006 was a great result, but it’s a totally different situation this year in my debut BTCC season. We are confident, though. Braking will be tough here but we haven’t had any problems with the brakes so far this year. Aerodynamically the car is strong, so everything points to a competitive meeting. Realistically one or two points finishes in the three races on Sunday is the aim.

“We have the pace to be in the points regularly – it’s proven on the timesheets. We have just had misfortune recently.”

Blanckley’s personal success at Snetterton isn’t the only unique factor that benefits the sibsport team. Graham Hathaway Engineering, who prepare and run the sibsport Honda Integra at each BTCC event, is based only a short journey away from the track in Maldon, Essex.

“We are here all the time; it’s almost like a second home, and the same goes for Brands Hatch,” said team manager Hathaway.

He believes the experience at the fast, flowing circuit will be invaluable to the car’s set-up this weekend, adding: “Although we’ve never run the Integra around Snetterton, we should be able to sort the set-up fairly early on in practice and dial in some quick laps in preparation for qualifying and the three races.”

Drivers’ Championship leader Jason Plato, meanwhile, is confident of maintaining his 25-point advantage at a circuit where he won twice last year.

Plato believes if his SEAT team can hone his Leon car to work as effectively through Snetterton’s mixture of high and low-speed turns as in 2006, it will be enough to overcome the car’s lack of pace in a straight line compared to the rival Vauxhalls, Hondas and BMWs.

“We went well at Snetterton last year, we know we have a good set-up that works well and we just have to find that sweet spot again,” said the North-East educated rider.

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