Priaulx aims to benefit from home advantage

Briton hopes to forget troubles and secure his first Touring Car win of season
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The Independent Online

Andy Priaulx is anticipating a "really exceptional weekend" as he prepares for his home round of the World Touring Car Championship here.

The Guernseyman is currently seventh in the drivers' standings and enduring a difficult campaign which has so far failed to deliver a victory. His 2009 record for BMW Team UK is in stark contrast to that of fellow Briton Rob Huff, the Chevrolet driver who has won twice already this year, but former champion Priaulx nevertheless expects the British crowd to be right behind him this weekend.

"I'm always scared to expect anything more than just a really good performance from myself. I've got a good feeling that the car is a lot more competitive, the package is stronger," he said.

Priaulx admits today's qualifying session will be likely to make or break his weekend. "We are in a good position to challenge for wins now and I think it is possible to go to Brands and have a really exceptional weekend, and that'll be down to me and the package in qualifying really," he said.

There have been nine different winners in 14 races this season, which gives an indication of the competitive nature of the WTCC, and Priaulx is adamant there is only a marginal difference between his BMW 320si and the diesel-powered Seat Leon of championship leader Yvan Muller, who is 42 points better off.

"I think when you look at how tight the championship is and the race is, they are really close," Priaulx added. "You can have people like Yvan and myself qualifying in pole or in 15th place. You only need to look at the lap times to realise there is not a lot of difference between 15th and pole."

The race at Brands is the last before a seven-week break, but Priaulx said the time before the next round at Oschersleben in Germany on 6 September would be well spent by his team.

"[We will be] testing and improving all the extra developments the team have done over the first half of the season, but we all need a bit of a rest as we've been flat out since Brazil at the end of February," he said.

Priaulx heads to his home event after achieving a little slice of history at the last round in Porto, when both he and the WTCC series celebrated their 100th race.

The 35-year-old is the only driver to have contested every round of the series since its inception in 2005, but he insists his motivation remains high and is not prepared to give up his status as Britain's leading touring car driver to Huff just yet.

When asked if Huff was his likely heir, Priaulx added: "I do have a lot of respect for him as a driver... but he has to win multiple titles consecutively for that to happen... so no!"