As the countdown to rounds four and five of the Michelin Clio Cup Race Series and Road Series continues ahead of the visit to Thruxton this weekend, 13th and 14th June, leading competitors from both categories say the event could be one of the most unpredictable of the 2015 season.
Race Series points leader Luke Herbert, who won two of the three contests during the season opening triple-header at Rockingham in April, carries a 22 point advantage into the second event of the campaign which will mark the 25-year-old's first competitive experience of Thruxton.
While the Westbourne Motorsport driver did take part in a pre-season test day at the 2.35-mile track back in February, a hefty excursion led to a heavily damaged Clio and a trip to hospital for precautionary checks. Herbert will, therefore, be aiming to put that behind him this weekend.
Added to that, there is no practice prior to Saturday morning's qualifying session and so the grid-determining shoot-out could be one of the most intriguing of the year with the chance of a number of surprises among the starting order.
"Rockingham was good, I should have had three wins really only driver error cost me", said Herbert, "Obviously I had a big crash in testing at Thruxton, so that is in the back of my mind going back there, but I enjoy the track and I am looking forward to it.
"The test day was my first time round Thruxton, so going straight into qualifying at the weekend is going to be a challenge. The thing is you're in sixth gear pretty much everywhere, other than the chicanes, so a small moment can usually turn into something pretty big! Hopefully it'll be good."
Herbert's closest challenger in the Race Series is currently privateer runner Paul Streather (Hinckley), the second year Clio racer having secured his maiden victory during round three. Like his title rival and fellow 25-year-old, Streather doesn't have any previous race experience at Thruxton but he is determined to head out in qualifying and do what he always does drive as fast as possible.
"I'm really looking forward to the weekend, I've only been to Thruxton once before and my car then broke in qualifying so I haven't really got any experience of the track I've never tested there", he explained, "It'll be interesting going straight into qualifying but I'm ready to try my hardest.
"Rockingham was a weekend of ups and downs but to get the win in the third race was great. We just had some bad luck in the first two, the car was mega all weekend. Thruxton is a daunting place but I tend to like fast, flowing circuits and I'm ready for the challenge."
Thruxton will be particularly testing for the Road Series racers, not least the highest speed section between Noble and Church which will ask a huge amount from the Michelin Pilot Sport 3 road tyres with the cars absolutely flat-out.
by: Becca Chaplin