Speedy Simon is on track for Croft

Speed king Simon Blanckley is relishing his return home this weekend when the British Touring Car Championship rolls into the North East.

Speed king Simon Blanckley is relishing his return home this weekend when the British Touring Car Championship rolls into the North East.

Durham-born Blanckley is competing in his first season in the BTCC, driving for his own Sibsport team.

The 39-year-old is busy putting the finishing touches to preparations for this weekend's event at Croft, near Darlington, where he will receive the enthusiastic backing of a large local contingent.

Blanckley, who lives in Tudhoe, Co Durham, has raced at Croft many times since he took up racing in 2001, mainly in the popular Northern Saloons Championship.

And now, having satisfied his dream of racing in the BTCC, Blanckley is eagerly awaiting his big-stage debut in front of his home crowd.

"I know the track really well - I've been there countless times. This should give me an advantage, so you never know what we could achieve," he said.

"I'm really looking forward to it and I'll be putting my all into getting the best result we can in all three races on Sunday.

"Croft is a great track as it's so technical and every corner is a different challenge.

"It's going to be an interesting weekend because the first few corners are quite tight and twisty, so I wouldn't be surprised if there are fewer cars on track by the end of the first lap than started it."

Blanckley, who drives a Honda Integra-R, admits he has had a tough baptism in the ultra-competitive BTCC, and currently lies 13th in the Independents' Championship, three points away from 10th spot.

In the Independent Teams' Championship, Sibsport are in 10th position.

"It's been tough, sure, especially being on a much lower budget than most teams, but I am competing in the same races as some of the best racing drivers in the world, so it's not meant to be easy!" said Blanckley, a company director.

"We've performed in the first few races, and personally I'm getting used to the atmosphere and the demands of being in a championship as big as the BTCC."

Approaching the event at Croft, which stages rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the BTCC, the team has achieved its initial aim of scoring an overall championship point, much sought after by the lower-budget independent entries such as Sibsport.

At Croft, the team's aim is to consolidate and improve on its position in the Independents' Championship, while Blanckley hopes to better his position in the Independent Drivers' Championship.

But as an outright result, Blanckley has a clear target.

"In terms of race aims, another point like the one we scored in round six at Rockingham, or more, would be good," he said.

"I know the car a lot better now. It's very reliable and simple compared to most cars to set up.

"We've also got strong wet-weather data, so should the heavens open, we'll be ready."

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