Being given the title 'the Michael Schumacher of touring cars' by many is an indication of how well Andy Priaulx has performed on the World Touring Car stage in recent seasons.
In 2006, he overcame the challenge of a new car and a weight system that punished the successful to claim his third straight championship title – cementing his place as the touring car driver the others strive to beat.
caught up with Andy to look back at last season and also to preview the upcoming campaign, when the Guernseyman will look to retain his hold on the WTCC title.
Andy, three titles in a row for you after the 2006 season and your second straight WTCC crown – is it not getting slightly boring winning all the time?
[Laughs] No, not for me! It's been really tough because it has always gone down to the last race so you never know you are going to win. With this type of championship, it is such a high level and the drivers racing in it are so good – touring car legends some of them – plus they throw in things like success ballast and reverse grids to make it harder.
The last few years I've been setting the pace which means they lump more lead on you to slow you down and the reverse grid pulls you away from the front as well. It's been three very challenging years but I feel it has taken my driving to a new level and has taken my career to a new level as well. So it's not been boring at all!!
Looking back at the last two years in particular, in 2005 it was a title season based on consistency with just the one win and then in 2006 there were more wins than anyone and the title still went to the season finale. Two very different title campaigns but two very difficult ones – how do you feel the two compared?
Well going back to 2004 when I won the European championship, people say I came back from twelve points behind and was lucky to win it, but the fact is I had won the most races and that is why I won the title. In the second year, they said I only won one race and I was champion so I must have been consistent, but the fact is that I was on the podium in nearly every race, lost a win at Silverstone due to a puncture on the last lap so I don't feel I was lucky to win it.
In 2006, I won five races, more than anyone else, was the heaviest car in the field, took more pole positions than anyone so I've been dominant and I won the title. Three in a row, no-one can argue with that really.
Aside from clinching the title in Macau, what would have been your highlight from 2006?