There’s no shortage of metaphors available when seeking to describe the arrival at Thruxton of erstwhile Formula One driver, Martin Donnelly.

Donnelly, now 51, and permanently affected by the injuries sustained during that horrific crash in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix some 25 years ago, is the unexpected replacement of Richard Hawken in the Infiniti Support Our Paras Racing BTCC team, who has been removed following his debut at Donington last month.

His arrival at Paras Racing is about as sudden as his rise through the junior ranks back in the mid 1980s, yet despite the obviousness of his talent, the challenges of the British Touring Car Championship are not lost on him.

Mission Improbable for Donnelly

“I have to start by saying that this is a momentous day for me personally,” says Donnelly. “But let’s cut to the chase, I’m here to do two things; to support the Paras and to do a good job for Infiniti. And this means one very simple thing, getting to the chequered flag three times on Sunday.”

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Thruxton, of course, is not only the fastest circuit on the BTCC calendar, it’s also one of high attrition. Cars, engines, tyres and drivers are all pushed beyond the limits of normal adhesion, and as we speak, not only has Donnelly not yet taken the car out on track, he hasn’t even sat in it.

“The plan for today couldn’t be simpler, I’ve just got to get as many laps in as possible and keep the car on the black stuff. I’ve seen how the Q50 handles and that’s what attracted me to Infiniti in the first place. You know, there are two ways of going about this, you can either push, push, push, but then you’re never going to really learn anything, or you can just relax, enjoy the car and explore the car.”

“I’m here to work with the team and Derek (Palmer) to develop the Q50 and build our performance towards being able to challenge for points finishes. We’re not going to do this overnight but from what I’ve already seen, we’re certainly headed in the right direction.”

Those are sound words. Donnelly knows that results will come from not only his own efforts but more so from those around him.At heart, he’s a fighter, and he’s not afraid of putting himself out there, but he recognises the need to find his way within the team first and not just out on track. So does this mean that the man who built his reputation at Lotus might just be about to change his hashtag?

“If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it properly. So I’m here now and I’ll be here for the rest of season. Beyond that, let’s see, but I don’t intend this chapter to be titled ‘Unfinished Business’.”

The Paras, Britain’s elite fighters land on.. the BTCC

You can watch the British Touring Car Championship from Thruxton this Sunday, live on ITV4 and online.