Fabrizio Giovanardi went into the 2009 season looking to try and make it three successive BTCC titles, and while the Italian failed to achieve his aim, he was right in the mix of one of the most exciting battles in recent years.
The double champion started his season with a podium finish in the first race of the year but then failed to score in the two remaining races at Brands Hatch to find himself on the back foot early on.
A first victory of the year at Thruxton kick-started his season and from that point on, the Italian remained in the points right through to the final race of the weekend at Rockingham - despite the Vectra struggling for pace against its rivals during the middle of the year.
A second win of the season came at Croft followed by a double at Snetterton and a win at Knockhill which left Giovanardi in contention heading to the final weekend of the year on the Brands Hatch GP circuit.
In the final weekend for the factory Vauxhall team, Giovanardi secured two podium finishes but was unable to overhaul Colin Turkington for the title, while Jason Plato pipped him to the runner-up slot.
It's highly unlikely that Giovanardi will return again in 2010 – with the Italian Superstars Series appearing to be the most likely option at the time of writing due to limited openings in the WTCC – and he will be a huge loss to the series.
Should he move to pastures new, Giovanardi will head off having been voted fourth in your poll for the top BTCC driver of the year.
Vauxhall Vectra (S2000)
Independents' Championship position:
Independents' Championship points:
NB: Pole position refers to qualifying, not to grid slot for race two or three on a weekend, decided by earlier race results
Podiums doesn't include race wins