Vauxhall's Fabrizio Giovanardi will hope to clinch a first Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship title this weekend at Thruxton - although he won't have it easy with Jason Plato currently nine points ahead in the championship standings.

Ahead of the weekend, Giovanardi took time out of his schedule to join us for an hour to answer questions posted by our BTCC readers.

This is what the Italian had to say...

Q - Christian Stiles:
Good luck for the weekend Fabrizio! I've got a quick question. What has been your most difficult race this season and why?

Fabrizio Giovanardi:
I think it was at Donington when the rain was heavy. I broke the wipers, I couldn't see outside of the screen completely. I didn't slow down but I was back five cars because I couldn't see them. I went off and ended up in a small lake!

Q - Grant:
Will Jason Plato's recent accident in a Caparo T1 give you an advantage this weekend? Do you think his burns will be a serious problem?

FG:
I'm very sorry for him that this has to happen now.

If he doesn't race for sure, it will give me an advantage but to be honest, I don't want to race and win without the best fighter this year.

It depends how much pain he is in as to how much it will affect his race. I think he will try not to feel it because he will be constantly trying to win.

Q - Freddie:
What do you make of all the politics in F1 and the spy-row there?

FG:
I'm not surprised. There's too much money involved in these kinds of sports. Everyone wants maximum advantage because they need to please the sponsors.

I live close to Ferrari, I drove for them in 2000 and 2001 testing the F1 car. I know they work very hard so I hope this doesn't hurt them in the future.

Q - Jamie:
How does the Vectra compare to the Astra that you drove last year

FG:
You cannot compare the two cars because the Astra was built in a different time when the rules were different. The engine is different, the suspension is different, the weight of the car is different, the dimensions are different. The Astra has won a lot in the past but it was the right time to stop that model because with the new rules it would not be so good like the Vectra.

Q - Steven Strike:
How will you celebrate if you win the championship? Best of luck for Sunday.

FG:
I didn't think about how to celebrate the winning because at the moment I didn't win. I don't want to give myself bad luck!

Q - Karen:
Who would be your perfect team-mate - if you could choose anyone (not just a touring car driver)?

FG:
Michael Schumacher, because he is a seven-time F1 champion so if was your team-mate you could beat him in the same car!! (joke)

Q - VX Fan:
How does the BTCC compare to the other series you;ve raced in?

FG:
The racing is very tough and the circuits are very different...and the weather is beautiful!! The people coming are very passionate and there are many of them.

Also, since I've been racing in England the Italian media has never written so much about me!

Q - Joey Padgett:
What was it like racing at Donington in the rain without your windscreen wipers working? Good luck Sunday, you've been awesome this year!

FG:
You have just to be concentrated because it's very easy to miss the circuits. When you are in a fight for the championship you have to try to save as much as you can the situation.

Q - Brisser:
What's the best bit of banter you recall from this year with fellow drivers or fans?

FG:
When I did filming with Jason Plato he made me wait for a long time. There was some good 'banter' then, when he finally arrived, but I think it was all on film.

Q - David Sheperd:
Good luck G, and keep the VX flag flying.

FG:
Grazie

Q - JSUK:
Would you like to have more international drivers in the BTCC? Do you feel it would be good for the series if Chevrolet or BMW ran a factory effort?

FG:
Of course; to make the category interesting to people outside it would be good to have more international drivers. The people that like racing like to see the good championships like the BTCC is. They want to watch good fighting not like Formula One which makes you fall asleep!

More fight with more brands would make more cars faster so I would be glad to see that too.

Q - Tim M:
On what part of his body do you think Jasons' halo should go? (wink)

FG:
I don't understand very good! Shouldn't he have a pitch fork instead?!? He has the devil's luck anyway!

Q - Darren Tinmouth:
Hey Gio, great to hear you've signed up for 2008, if you do win the title this weekend, how will winning the BTCC rank alongside your many other achievements?

FG:
It is important like the other ones, every different season it's important. Every international driver wants to try and win the BTCC, most of the best have won it at one stage.

Q - David C:
What do you do in the shakedown? How is it different from circuit to circuit?

FG:
We always shake down in the same place. We go to an airfield to check every part of the car is running well. We run-in the brake pads, clutch and we check if there is any oil failure.

Q - Richie:
Who is the best driver you've ever raced against and what young driver impresses you most in the BTCC?

FG:
I haven't any best driver in my mind. Every driver is different and every driver has different characteristics. I raced against a lot of famous names in single-seaters, Damon Hill, Eddie Irvine, Jean Alesi, Frentzen - none of them really stood out at the time.

But then again, a driver can never say another is better. To be at the top you have to be convinced you are the best, even if it's not true. If you admit this, you are finished!

I like Mat Jackson in the BTCC this season, he was fast this year.

Q - Brian T:
How does the BTCC compare to the other championships you've raced in?

FG:
I think I have already answered this. All championships are fun when I have the big fight to win the championship. It's not important if it's Italian, Spanish, European or British, it's just good fun to make effort and win. That's why I send to Jason Plato my best wishes because I want to beat him on the field.

Q - Steven Strike:
If after Thruxton, you finish a couple of points behind Plato, would you feel the failure of the windscreen wiper motors at Donington cost you the title? You've been awesome this season Gio, best wishes for Sunday!

FG:
No, it's not the fault of the wiper, we have lost points in other places, it's not just that. The season is not done on one situation. It's the total of many races and many problems. Hopefully I won't finish two points back, I want to finish one point in front!

Thank you for your support!

Q - Mr Kipling:
What's the most thrilling battle you've had on track? And, when you're having them is it as exciting to be in it as it is to watch - or just stressful?!

FG:
There have been many. Plato's battle at Snetterton was good. It was fun to ride on the grass together! I was over-taking him and I really enjoyed taking that place!

I'm not stressed when I race, I enjoy because it's what I need to feel myself good when I get the result. If the result is coming too easy I don't like.

Q - Touring cars rule!:
Do you still watch the WTCC? Who do you think will win the title?

FG:
I commentated on it last weekend for Eurosport Italia. I think that Andy Priaulx will probably win again because in the group of the drivers that are running in the World Touring Cars he is the driver that has a good interpretation of the rules.

Q - Jack Rae:
You've made some amazing saves this year - have you ever considered rallying?

FG:
I have done it, the Monza rally in 1988. I finished second in class and fifth in total. You cannot compare my saves with rally car though, it does not mean I can be a good rally car driver. It's just my reaction in this kind of situation, I have very good vision of the situation.

My uncle was a rally driver - he won the Italian championship

Q - Michael Lambert:
Which circuit in the BTCC was the most difficult to learn?

FG:
Snetterton, but many circuits are difficult in England. There are no road markings or reference points, so you have to have many hours before you know them.

Q - Darren C:
If you could take part in any race in the world, what would it be and why?

FG:
Dakar. It is a beautiful place to visit, Africa

Q - Claire:
How does this season rate difficulty wise compared to your previous ones?

FG:
I've had to fight back many times this season so it has not been easy, but I have never won easy.

Q - Jo:
Who do you think will win the F1 title?

FG:
Hamilton, because he has the best car at the moment and Alonso is four points behind

With thanks to our readers for all your questions, and to Fabrizio and VX Racing for taking the time to answer them.