Ford star Reid hopes for home advantage

Anthony Reid heads home this weekend believing local knowledge will give him an advantage over his Auto Trader British Touring Car Championship rivals. The series pays its annual visit to Scotland for rounds seven and eight on Sunday (May 14) and Glaswegian Reid is hoping to claim his first win in 2000 in his Ford Mondeo

Ford star Reid hopes for home advantage

The Scot, joint third in the standings with Vauxhall's Jason Plato, has finished third and second in earlier rounds this season and wants to climb the top step of the podium in his homeland. Success this weekend could see the 1998 runner-up overhaul the championship leader - team-mate Alain Menu - and take a step closer to emulating his childhood hero Jim Clark.

Reid went to the same Scottish school (Loretto School) as Clark, the double Formula One World Champion who also won the British Touring Car Championship with Ford in 1964. Since entering the BTCC in 1997, Reid has harboured the ambition of winning the title and there would be no better way to accelerate his championship challenge with a win on the track closest to his birthplace.

Says Reid: "Jim Clark was the reason I became interested in motor racing. There was a big plaque in the school chapel commemorating his achievements and that inspired me. He's been my hero ever since! He won the BTCC title with Ford and I've never had a better chance to win the title than this year with Ford."

He adds: "I like to go home to see family and friends, but that does not make this race any more important than the others. This year it is vitally important to do well everywhere because the championship is so close. But racing at home just gives you that added bit of confidence.

"I went to school just down the road and I know how the weather works in that part of the country, which is always an advantage. Knockhill is a circuit I enjoy as well. I've won there in previous years, had a couple of pole positions and was on the front row there last year, so I'm expecting another successful weekend."

Along with his two team-mates, 1997 champion Menu and 1998 title-winner Rickard Rydell, Reid has the added bonus of not being hampered by team orders - unlike his counterparts at Vauxhall. In round six at Thruxton, Briton Jason Plato was told to move aside to let fellow Vectra ace Yvan Muller through to take the victory.

The early-season move was defended by Vauxhall's team, Triple Eight Race Engineering, as a tactic to ensure Vauxhall had the best chance of winning the title. Now, BTCC fans have been told team orders will only come into play if absolutely necessary.

Mike Nicholson, Vauxhall's Motorsport Manager, says: "Vauxhall and Triple Eight Race Engineering are focussed on winning the Auto Trader British Touring Car Championship this year with our team of three drivers - Yvan Muller, Jason Plato and Vincent Radermecker. Yvan is the lead driver in the team, a position he has earned by strong performances in 1999 and during this season so far. The public, Vauxhall and Triple Eight Race Engineering all want to see the best driver in any race prevail and team tactics will only be introduced in future if there is a need to protect our championship position."

The Vectras of Muller and Plato could struggle on the inclines at Knockhill, however, as they will both carry 40kg of ballast following their success at Thruxton. Others to incur weight penalties following Thruxton are: Reid (30kg), Menu (20kg) and Class B's Alan Morrison (40kg), Mark Lemmer (30kg) and James Kaye (20kg).

Honda, meanwhile, will be looking to their ballast-free trio of Accords to make an impression at the Fife circuit. The sole high-point for Honda so far this year has been Italian Gabriele Tarquini's second place at Donington Park (round four). Apart from that, the Accord has not lived up to his pre-season expectations.

The absence of star James Thompson - sidelined following a crash at the Brands Hatch season opener - has not helped Redstone Team Honda's challenge either. It is hoped the young Yorkshireman will be fully fit in time for this weekend's action and a decision on his participation will be made on Wednesday.

Another Scot looking to make an impact at home this weekend is Michelin Cup for Independents contender Colin Blair. The 41-year-old Glaswegian arrives at Knockhill tied at the top of the Michelin points table with reigning Independent champion Matt Neal. Both drive identical Nissan Primeras, but Blair hopes his intimate knowledge of the circuit will give him the edge.

He says: "I've competed in about 20 Road Saloon races there and won the majority of them. I know the circuit very well so this weekend should be good."

Class B will also provide bumper-to-bumper action. Alan Morrison's Touring Car VIP Club Peugeot 306 has proved the car to beat so far, with four wins from six races. But Barwell Motorsport is keeping up the fight with its duo of drivers James Kaye, winner of two rounds in his Accord, and Mark Lemmer, who drives a Honda Integra Type R, second and third in the title chase respectively.

BTCC spectators at Knockhill will also be able to witness an exciting package of support race action, including the Slick 50 Formula Ford ZETEC, Ford Credit Fiesta ZETEC, Autobytel Lotus, Formula Renault 2000 and Elf Clio Renaultsport UK Cup championships.

The BTCC contenders are testing at Knockhill on Friday, May 12. Qualifying takes place on Saturday (May 13), with the races on Sunday, May 14. Round seven (Sprint Race, 20 laps, 26-miles) is scheduled to start at 12.45pm with round eight (Feature Race, 40 laps, 52miles) getting the green light at 3.30pm.


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