Former double British Touring Car champion Fabrizio Giovanardi admits his main focus now this season is to develop his Airwaves Racing Ford Focus for the future after a difficult comeback year that has struggled to live up to expectations.
Having surprised fans by announcing his return to the series with the Motorbase-run team six years after winning back-to-back BTCC titles in 2007 and 2008, Giovanardi was immediately elevated to the status of a title favourite in a field brimming with former title-winning talent.
However, at present, few – not least the Italian himself – had expected Giovanardi to be more than 150 points adrift of the top spot after five rounds of ten his comeback campaign having yielded just a single podium so far after a defiant defensive drive earlier in the year at Thruxton.
Indeed, though Giovanardi admits he had come into the season seeking a title tilt, he says he has endured tough times before during his lengthy career.
“2014 so far has been quite a hard season for me, but I've also had plenty of difficult seasons previously in my career,” Giovanardi told Crash.net
. “Obviously at the beginning of the year I was expecting to be one of the top drivers competing for the championship, but now that's gone.
“All I can do now is concentrate on at least in trying to win a race along with understanding and developing the car for the future.”
Summarising his season up to this point, Giovanardi had found himself in the ascendancy last time out for the Croft finale, but his glory at the front was short lived after contact with defending champion Andrew Jordan put a first win since Thruxton 2010 temporarily on hold.
Cautious on whether stating a victory was on the cards, Giovanardi was more certain as to whom was to blame for his spectacular race-ending collision with the tyres.
“At this point is difficult to say if the victory was on cards,” he continued. “Unfortunately my race only lasted a couple of corners before Jordan decided to kill my race! For sure I was determined to defend my lead and try to win the race!
“I believe Jordan did not make a good move, especially in that point. But what I can say is, I'm not so angry for the accident, but for the excuses found from him to justify the move!”
The 47-year old believes the NGTC formula, which was introduced to the championship in 2011 to create a leveller playing field, has been part of the reason why he's struggled to make a serious impact in his Ford Focus.
Having won his BTCC titles driving a BTC-specification Vauxhall Vectra, though Giovanardi appreciates the wisdom of the rules, he admits the nature of the new rules are a limitation in being able to develop the car.
“A new formula like NGTC is a very interesting initiative,” he said. “The nature of the rules makes all the cars very even in terms of performance, and this a very clever idea in terms of the show of the championship.
“In the same way for a driver like myself, with a lot of experience in developing cars, the rules are a big limitation. However these are the rules, and I have to play with that.”
Not only has Giovanardi found the NGTC rules difficult to adapt to, the former Vauxhall man admitted earlier in the season, to crash.net, that he wasn't happy with the way his Focus-machine was handling its new tyres.
Having confirmed he and his Airwaves squad have solved the Focus' tyre issues the Italian finally hinted we haven't yet seen the full potential of his Motorbase-machine.
“The way the car uses the new tyres isn't an issue for me anymore after working with the problem,” he said.
“I'm more confident in that respect with the new tyres now. Unfortunately, after having solved the problems with the tyres, our last two race weekends have been influenced by outside problems, so we haven't really been able to show to true potential of the car yet,” Giovanardi concluded.