KNOCKHILL JUNE 12/13 RACE WEEKEND PREVIEW: NANKANG TYRE BMW COMPACT CUP
It may only be just over a month since the opening rounds of the Nankang Tyre BMW Compact Cup, but even that feels like an age away from our last track action. Thankfully, it’s race week once again and this time we’re heading to a circuit that amazingly the championship has never been to! On this occasion, the drivers and teams (well, most of them anyway) make the long journey north across the border and into Scotland as the awesome Knockhill Circuit in Fife hosts us for the very first time. Even though the Scottish BMW Compact Cup has raced here frequently in the past, the more “national” series has never raced there before, so it will be a new test for everyone involved. Well, when we say everyone…
Those who are native Scots will certainly have plenty of laps under their belt, primary of those of course being four-time champion Steven Dailly who has been a former Scottish champ in the past too. He will certainly know this place better than the back of his hand and must go into the weekend as the favourite for race victory. He started strong at Croft with a 2nd place and a win and intends to carry on this good form at home. With spectators now allowed trackside, we’re sure there’s going to be some local fans that will be cheering him on and hoping for a double victory.
Steven’s had many rivals step up and challenge him for the title over the last few seasons, including Steve Roberts, James Gornall, Ian Jones (more on him later) and Tom Griffiths, and 2021 now sees Oliver Faller add himself to that list. He made sure that Steven and co knew his intentions straight away by taking a win in the first race and then 2nd behind Dailly later in the day, leaving him just a point behind in P2 in points courtesy of the fastest lap point Steven scored on his way to his Race 2 win. Both already appear evenly matched this year and Knockhill will certainly be a test of how he matches up on Steven’s home turf.
Currently equal 3rd in points after one of his best weekends to date in the Compact Cup is Ray MacDowall, father of former BTCC racer Alex, who drove superbly to take a 3rd and a 4th to not only currently reside in the final podium spot in the standings, but is also the top Masters driver in the standings and hoping to carry on his good form. He’s tied with Ian Jones, a perennial front runner who never fails to entertain on track and is always willing to get his elbows out and get stuck in when battling for position.
Whether or not Knockhill is a circuit that will favour him will be an intriguing scenario to watch play out, especially when at this early stage in the championship the points gaps between the top 10 drivers are so small. Ben Huntley is only two away in 5th with defending Masters champion Paul Maguire a further point back, then Ian Howes and Rhys Claydon ahead of Simon Welton and Guy Davis. Huntley has proven his pace on more than one occasion and is especially handy in wet conditions, although it doesn’t appear likely that much precipitation is set to fall on the latest forecast, if any. Maguire was pleased with his opening weekend’s work in Yorkshire and will certainly have ambition to make the most of his Scottish trip to try and keep with MacDowall and even take over the Masters lead, while Howes did very well to capture a 3rd place in the first race of the year but slipped backwards in the second race losing him points. Claydon and Davis are also two drivers that know how to mix it up in the top 10 and have shown bursts of speed at times before, so expect them to take any opportunity to gain places as the weekend progresses.
Other drivers who sit outside the top 10 will be looking to make amends after less than satisfying starts. The Dobles, father and son Mike and Mikey respectively, had a tough start to the season with Mikey sitting 11th and Mike in 14th after a points penalty was applied following a judicial decision. Former Fiesta man Lee Dendy-Sadler also had an up and down weekend in Yorkshire, while Wayne Flint was fast all day but has a mountain to climb already after he was excluded from Race 1. All of the above will be hoping Knockhill is kinder to them than Croft was.
As for local drivers, alongside points leader Dailly, keep an eye out for Philip Webster, Cliff Harper, Graham Robertson and Richard Sutherland, all of whom call are native to Scotland and will be eager to impress and grab some strong results on their home circuit. You never know, they might even produce a surprise or two!