Fabrizio Giovanardi insists he won't be resting on his laurels as he seeks to secure a third straight HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship crown, insisting that SEAT's decision to quit the series won't make his title quest any easier.
The VX Racing ace has spent the past two seasons battling with SEAT's Jason Plato for the title, securing his maiden BTCC crown in 2007 after a season-long battle concluded on Finals Day at Thruxton and then claimed his second crown in a row last season at Brands Hatch on a weekend when Plato lost second in the standings to Mat Jackson.
While the diesel SEAT has now left the scene, and both Plato and Jackson have yet to announce drives for this season, Giovanardi said he still expected a difficult season with the likes of Team RAC, Airwaves BMW and Team Dynamics set to lead the challenge to the works Vauxhall team.
“The SEAT was quick last year, but it finished third; it was the BMW that was behind me,” he told Crash.net
. “We have to keep our eyes open and not think it will be easy because the SEAT isn't here. For sure, SEAT and Plato were a hard competitor but there might be a surprise from the Ford or the Honda and we'll see in two weeks [when the season starts at Brands Hatch].
“I'm going for [three in a row]. You'll have to ask the other drivers if they are going to let me [do it]!”
Giovanardi added that he wasn't surprised to see a BMW – in the hands of Colin Turkington – top the times during the annual media day test at Rockingham but said the Triple Eight-run Vauxhall squad was working hard to get more pace from the Vectra to aid its challenge.
“I think it has gone well,” he said. “I am not surprised to see the BMW at the front, even last year Turkington and Jackson were at the front. But I am not worried because we don't know how much ballast they are carrying and don't know when they did their time as the circuit had good times and bad times during the day. I think we have found something to improve our performance. Maybe it isn't enough but we'll see.”