Homecoming for Palmer & Parasposted in BTCC19 | 08 | 2015

    DEREK PALMER AND his Support Our Paras Racing team head to Knockhill in Fife this weekend for the annual visit of the British Touring Car Championship determined to build on their Snetterton success.

    Last time out at the Norfolk circuit, Palmer scored his and the team's best-ever finish in their debut season when he brought his Infiniti Q50 over the line in 15th. And in addition to scoring the team's first championship point, Palmer eased himself into second place in the race for the prestigious Jack Sears Trophy for BTCC rookies with two seconds and a win.

    "Yeh, Snetterton was fantastic and highlighted to everyone just how much progress the team, the car and I have made this season," the 28-year-old from Lesmahagow said.

    "Everybody knows we've had something of a baptism of fire in the BTCC, with the early-season difficulties and the challenges we've faced establishing stability with the second driver in the team.

    "It's certainly not been easy, and a lot of things have conspired against us, but I think we've maximised the situation the best we could."

    Of course, with a team full of ex-Paras, Palmer — who will again drive the team's sole entry this weekend — knows he has the crew to face up to adversity.

    Uniquely, Palmer's car has been built, and is race-prepared, by injured ex-servicemen from the Parachute Regiment, with all team profits being donated to Support Our Paras, the official Regiment charity.

    How big has the challenge been?

    Related: Win £15,000 and help raise £20,000 for Paras' charity

    "It's been massive," Palmer openly admitted. "We knew what we were getting into coming into the BTCC. It's nothing that's surprised us. I think we prepared, as the Paras do, as best we could with what we had and the time we had, and we've just grafted and made progress as a team, as a driver and with the car."

    With its base in Lesmahagow, and a race prep-centre at Mallory Park, the TENA Men-backed team heads to Knockhill ready to race in front of its home support for the first time. And Palmer and his fledgling team can't wait.

    "Racing at Knockhill is going to be massive for us," he smiled. "For me it's quite a special track in the sense that it's pretty different to anywhere else on the BTCC calendar.

    "It's got tons of character: it's not like a number of the circuits we go to which are all pretty flat. Knockhill has undulations and significant gradient changes. Duffus Dip is going to be awesome in a BTCC car.

    "Plus you can stand in the middle of the circuit and see a lot of the track from one place: I love it.

    "Coming immediately after our performances at Snetterton, everyone in the team is on a high. Now we have to try and either equal it, or better it. Not only do I think we'll be more suited to Knockhill than we were at Snetterton, unlike in Norfolk, I don't need to learn the track.

    "The gaps on the timesheets between cars is minimal in the BTCC, but our car is definitely capable of another top 15 position, and Knockhill is a good opportunity for us to achieve it again. We're certainly gong to be doing everything we can to deliver in front of our home crowd."

    Related: Paras bag best result of the season

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    Jim McGill

    Photo: Copyright Jakob Ebrey

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