Preview: Crunch time for Thommo

James Thompson leads the BTCC as it moves within six rounds of its climax this weekend at Knockhill and it could be make or break time for the Yorkshireman at the track where he had the biggest accident of his career back in 1995

Preview: Crunch time for Thommo

Thompson heads the standings by 25 points from his Vauxhall Motorsport team-mate Yvan Muller and with a total of just 105 points available at Knockhill and the final two meetings at Brands Hatch and Donington Park, the races on the tight and twisty Fife track could be crucial.

Traditionally the Scottish rounds produce more than their fair share of bumping and bashing, largely because the track is narrow and passing tricky. That means qualifying is important. As Thompson says: "You really need a front row start to be in with a chance of a clean race otherwise it can turn into a bit of a demolition derby."

That could be a problem for Muller and Thompson as they go into qualifying with the two heaviest cars on the grid thanks to the success ballast rules. Knockhill's tight hairpin followed by an uphill straight mean the ballast will be hard to overcome for the Vauxhall stars.

First among those lining up to knock Thompson and Muller of their perch will be their closest points challenger Matt Neal in the Egg Astra and the ever-improving works Hondas of Andy Priaulx and Alan Morrison, all of whom are in lightweight trim after failing to finish the last round.

"In theory Knockhill is one of those circuits where the extra weight will really count, so we should be in a strong position," said Morrison. "However, it won't be easy. Vauxhall competed here last year and thus have a huge head start over us in terms of track knowledge."

Scot Anthony Reid in the works MG also goes into his home race with a light car and he too will be pulling out all the stops to re-establish the ZS as the Astras' closest challenger in the face of the Civic Type-Rs' strong late-season form.

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