Johnny Herbert is setting his sights high when he makes his HiQ British Touring Car debut at Silverstone with the Team Dynamics Honda team.
Herbert, a winner of three Formula 1 grands prix in a career spanning eleven years, makes a high-profile switch to the national touring car series after inking a deal to compete in the final three rounds of the season as a replacement for the WTCC-committed James Thompson.
Having initially sampled the Honda Civic during testing at Rockingham, Herbert conducted a further test at Pembrey recently, the former Benetton, Lotus and Jaguar driver feeling considerably more confident about his chances as Silverstone approaches.
Indeed, Herbert, a winner at the Le Mans 24 Hours too, says that he is targeting a win on his maiden outing, but adds he would be content to be competitive from the off.
"A win is the only thing,” he told btcc.net
. “My main thing is I want to be competitive. I don't want to be near the back end. I know how competitive the BTCC has always been from when Nigel (Mansell) did it a few years ago. I'm also very aware of how tight the grid will be, particularly on the National circuit where it's a short lap time, but I think and hope after what we did today in the test I can have a better car and be competitive throughout the weekend.
“I'd love to win. That would be my goal and if I did that it would be brilliant and probably surprise a lot of people, myself included. If not, then a podium would still be a massive achievement."
Having made a success from competing in Formula 1, sportscars and, most recently, in the NASCAR-based Speedcar series, Herbert concedes he is nervous about partaking in any of the 'panel-bashing' the BTCC has become associated with over the years.
“There's obviously a lot of contact week after week which makes the racing very exciting. I've not really been used to contact in the categories I've raced in and it's not something I was very good at when I was in karting. So I need to be very aware of where other drivers are and aren't on the track.
“You go into it like every other weekend and want to be competitive or you wouldn't bother, but you need to be very aware of what is happening and try to get yourself in a position where you're not going to fall victim to others around you."
Herbert is the latest in a long line of F1 drivers making an appearance in the BTCC, following the likes of Gabriele Tarquini, Derek Warwick, Nigel Mansell.