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    Vauxhall’s drivers are predicting spectacular action from Knockhill as the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship moves north for the latest round of Britain’s largest domestic racing series.

    The team is the undisputed Knockhill specialist, holding the tempestuous circuit’s lap record as well as recording more wins there than any other manufacturer.

    Last year VX Racing logged one of its highest point hauls of the season at the Scottish venue and the drivers know a repeat performance is necessary if the Manufacturer’s Title is to stay within their grasp for 2006.

    Flinging the cars round Knockhill’s high curbs and twisty corners is a proven way of gaining the advantage at the popular venue but it is a tricky balance between optimizing the racing line and breaking the car.

    “It’s a very dramatic circuit, with lots of gradient changes and big curbs to hit,” said VX Racing’s prodigy, Tom Chilton, from Reigate, who has consistently scored podiums at the Scottish circuit. “It’s important to get a good set up on the car. You need to make it quite compliant but quick as well because you’ve got to get on the throttle as quickly as possible. I quite like it!”

    Vauxhall’s Astra Sport Hatch is well equipped to tackle the highland circuit’s challenges, with its short wheel base for extra agility through the tight and twisty corners and its massive engine power to muscle up the steep hills.

    “I think it will be good for the car the same as July’s round at Croft was,” said two-times European Touring Car Champion, Fabrizio Giovanardi. “We are always fast in the first part of the race and there are plenty of slow corners at Knockhill to help us keep people behind us after that.

    “To be honest I know very little about the circuit. I will try to have some laps there in a road car before Saturday to get to know it. Looking at the plan, it is a very short, very tight and very difficult track. I need to learn its secrets quickly if I’m going to do well.

    “I think the best thing that could happen is rain and I hear that is almost guaranteed in Scotland, although I was told that about England and it’s been sunny all season!”

    Another VX Racing driver hoping for rain is Ireland’s Gavin Smith, who enjoyed the mixed conditions at Donington Park last month, only narrowly missing out on his first win.

    “Most drivers say they prefer driving in the wet because it’s a bit more of a leveler,” said the Dubliner. “You’ve got to have balls of steel because it can be pretty scary! The car is slipping all over the place and you don’t know if you’re going to get around the corner. Having said that, I love it! If you’re bad in the wet you need to go have a talk with yourself!”

    Qualifying starts at 15:40 on Saturday with the first of three races starting at 11.10 on Sunday.

    BTCC Drivers Championship 2006 (after 21 of 30 rounds)
    1. Matt Neal (207)
    2. Colin Turkington (180)
    3. Jason Plato (167)
    4. James Thompson (150)
    5. Gordon Shedden (142)
    6. Tom Chilton (101)
    7. Gavin Smith (95)
    8. Fabrizio Giovanardi (93)