James Thompson Q&A

At Knockhill yesterday (Friday, May 12) Honda BTCC star James Thompson returned to the track after nearly five weeks on the sidelines courtesy of concussion incurred in a heavy shunt at Brands during round two of the 2000 BTCC.

James Thompson Q&A

The crash also aggravated an eye injury he received in a huge testing shunt at Knockhill in1995, which put him out for half a season.

Having celebrated his 26th birthday, very quietly, during his lay-off James is now on top form again, racing in the BTCC this weekend and looking forward to his new programme with the Abt Motorsport Audi TT in the revived DTM (the launch of which he attended in Berlin on Thursday).

Nick Phillips spoke to the Yorkshireman after qualifying at Knockhill, when Thompson was provisionally placed in third and sixth places for tomorrow's grids.

Q: Are you pleased to be back?

A: Yeah obviously very happy to be back and straight back on the pace. I brushed a bit of rust off in testing yesterday and it's going well. The Honda is looking very good with three cars in the first four places on the grid for the feature race. It's nice that it's coincided, me coming back and it all going well for Honda.

Q: Was Knockhill, where you had your first big accident, a difficult place to come back?

A: Well historically I've never had very good results up here. I do enjoy it, but I've had a few shunts here in the past, so Knockhill hasn't been very good for me so far, but I'm not a great believer in that sort of thing. I'll just get on and do it. We were looking good yesterday and it's gone reasonably well today too.

Q: You've had two head injuries that have kept you off-track now, what does a problem like that mean to you in practical day-to-day terms?

A: Really it just means rest. This time I banged my head and had concussion, and I have to be careful with my eyes, because of what happened in 1995. Really it's just rest, there was nothing I could do. I've had headaches and problems with my vision, so I just had to do absolutely nothing. That sounds very nice, but it gets very boring. I tried to drive at Donington [in testing prior to rounds 3 and 4], but had a recurrence of the concussion and had to stop and because of the proximity of the two meetings [one week apart] I had to miss Thruxton as well. I'm just about 100% again now though.

Q: You're now 62 points, behind the championship leader, can you still challenge for the title?

A: It's fair to say that having been tipped for the title before the season, I've gone from hero to zero in a very short space of time. Realistically I've got to look at getting some good results for Honda and just doing my best, then I'll be happy and they'll be happy and we'll see where that puts us. The main thing is to win races for the manufacturer. At the moment for me personally it's not looking rosy, but I'll just put my head down and get some results.

Q: Is motivation a problem in circumstances like these?

A: I don't like getting beaten. The motivation is not to get beaten and the only way to do that is to win. If you don't beat everyone else you don't get jobs. At the end of the day, this is my living and if I cruise round at the back no one is going to want to employ me, so I'll just get on and enjoy it.

Q: Enjoyment and motivation shouldn't be a problem in your new Audi DTM programme either.

A: Obviously I'm highly motivated for both championships. The DTM's very exciting and it's great to be involved at the beginning of a new touring car championship. And seeing the effort that Abt Motorsport [the Audi TT DTM team], Foss-Tech [car-builder] and AAD [designer] have put in to turn the car round in three months. It's a very big achievement. Abt is a very professional team and there's a very good friendly atmosphere, which is important. I'm really looking forward to having a change of scene, going over to Germany and broadening my horizons.

Q: When will you get in the TT?

A: Very soon. The car is running and I'll be in it very soon. It's turned a wheel, but not tested on a circuit yet.

Q: You've seen the other cars running though.

A: Yeah and they're very exciting. They sound great, really loud. When someone fires one up everyone turns round and it's like 'what is that?' The things that the DTM has going for it are manufacturer input and the spectacle and performance of the cars. Spectators want to see spectacular, noisy cars, something that they can't own themselves, but which they can dream about driving. And these cars look like they fill the slot, and I think all that will make it a very successful series.

Q: When will we see you winning again?

A: Pretty soon. We'll see, the weekend's not over yet.

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