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BTCC Memorable Drives: Cleland vs Bailey [Knockhill 1993]

Smokin' Jo Winklehock dominated the BTCC in 1993. Image Credit:

Smokin’ Jo Winklehock dominated the BTCC in 1993. Image Credit:

Welcome back one and all to ‘BTCC Memorable Drives’. My opening salvo into the memorable history of the Touring Cars took a delectable selection of moments and laid them out for your eyes to see. As this mini series moves on however, it is time to take a deeper look into some of these special moments, as chosen by you. The first of these is a moment that had passed me by for the many years I have spent watching the season reviews of years gone by. Let me take you back to 1993 and to Scottish soils; the scene of a weekend long battle royale.

For those of you who may not be aware of what I speak, here presents itself video evidence of that great weekend:

BTCC 1993 Rounds 10/11 at Knockhill

The car on its roof, is a Toyota! Silverstone hadn't been great for Toyota. Image Credit: SpeedHunters,com

The car on its roof, is a Toyota! Silverstone hadn’t been great for Toyota. Image Credit: SpeedHunters,com

Knockhill played host to the 10th and 11th round of the 1993 Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship. Up until this point, the 1993 season had been very much a BMW affair, with team mates Joachim Winklehock and Steve Soper sharing the spoils. It was only with the return of the mighty Ford team of Andy Rouse and Paul Radisich that a challenge presented itself to the BMW team. The round preceding Knockhill was the F1 support round at Silverstone which saw the Toyota team rocket into the commanding positions. They were leading the field comfortable until the moment where Julian Bailey made the unfortunate mistake of making a move on team mate Will Hoy which ended with him on his roof and off the track. Rather embarrassing if you ask me!

So as Knockhill came around, it was important for Toyota and Bailey in particular to make amends in any way he could. I will go out on a limb here and say as the Knockhill weekend came to a close, he had nearly made up for his previous errors! Qualifying for the first race saw Bailey place his Toyota on pole, surprisingly alongside Patrick Watts in his distinctively coloured Mazda.

The title story (literally) of the weekend was the on going battle between Soper and Winklehock; Soper was trying to close the gap on his team mate who had pulled out a points lead. But for those who were at the event, many would have even forgotten the BMWs were there at all, apart from maybe the absolute demon starts of Winklehock. If this had been happening in the last few years, I would be willing to put money on a certain driver complaining that the BMW got too much of an advantage as a RWD car and a penalty should be imposed. Good job he wouldn’t be in the championship for the next 4 years…

It was all about two men. The local hero vs the man in search of redemption

At his home track, Cleland gave a stunning performance. Image Credit:

At his home track, Cleland gave a stunning performance. Image Credit:

Whatever happened behind was of little concern to John Cleland and Julian Bailey. Throughout the entire weekend they dominated the entire field. After an initial red flag brought out by various incidents in the field, the race started again to see Patrick Watts charging into a lead that was quickly taken by Julian Bailey and John Cleland. For the rest of the race, Bailey chased down Cleland and the two fought hammer and tong until the checkered flag. To the delight of the Scottish crowds, the win went to John Cleland followed closely by Julian Bailey. It was Cleland’s first race victory of the year and he could not have had a more popular win.

Race two saw the battling pair continue their feud from race one, after Winklehock was forced to retire after a broken clutch. Behind Bailey and Cleland, Will Hoy managed to get past the persistent Patrick Watts and get into 3rd position by the end of the race. Almost as if to make up for not securing victory in race one, Bailey eventually got past the determined Cleland and took a commanding victory by the time the checkered flag dropped.

Julian Bailey was a man on a mission at Knockhill. Image Credit:

Julian Bailey was a man on a mission at Knockhill. Image Credit:

For many people, the Bailey-Cleland duel of Knockhill may be easily forgotten, but for me it has so many of the qualities that define not only the BTCC, nor even touring car racing, but motorsport in general. For both races at Knockhill, John Cleland and Julian Bailey managed to have a weekend long dog fight for ultimate victory without having to resort to dirty tactics. That is something rather rare in this day and age. My go to example on this is Giovanardi who has always decided that when he cannot overtake traditionally, he will simply spin the car in front out the way. Oh and on a completely unrelated note, which driver gained the most penalties and endorsements in the 2014 BTCC season? Let me remind you, the answer is in no way related to anything I have spoken about already..

Additionally, it was great to see two very different drivers in two very different cars having such a close fought battle. It’s a testament not only to touring car racing but to what made the 2.0 litre formula in the BTCC so very special. The regulations were devised in such a way that encouraged diversity but also extremely close racing. Finally, no one can forget the context in which this battle took place. British race circuits are a thing of beauty, and Knockhill is just one example of that. Knockhill has something that so many of the modern race tracks (I am looking at you Tilke) are just lacking; character. When you hear the name Knockhill, you think of the rise and falls, the twists and turns, the wind and the rain and the tight final hairpin. British race tracks are more than just pre-planned bits of tarmac; they come to life and have their own personality.

I hope you enjoyed this latest issue of BTCC Memorable Drives! I shall return soon for more of the races, the seasons or even the incidents that define the worlds greatest touring car series. These are the moments; these are the drives of racing history.

What other moments define the BTCC for you?

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