Colin Turkington says it "feels so good to go racing again" as he prepares to begin his bid for a record fifth British Touring Car title at Donington.
"You can test and prepare all day long, and we have done that, but the buzz of competition and the excitement the BTCC brings is hard to find anywhere else," says the defending champion from Portadown, who has spent the lockdown with his wife Louise and young sons Lewis and Adam at their home in Buckinghamshire.
He recognises it is going to be different with Covid protocols in place, including no interaction between teams and a last-minute decision to exclude all spectators.
"Things will be different with safety precautions in place," he adds. "These will be closely monitored and adjusted as necessary. We don't have our usual hospitality units or catering team and the number of people in the team has also been reduced.
"Now we hear there will be no spectators either. That's a shame but understandable. Still, all three races on Sunday will be live on ITV4 so fans won't miss out."
Turkington says he isn't focusing on becoming the first five-time champion in BTCC history, even though two of his biggest rivals, Jason Plato and Andrew Jordan, who has been his BMW team-mate at West Surrey Racing for the past three years, will be absent.
"I'm sorry Jason and Andrew have had to sit this season out, but there are loads of other people capable of winning races and, with virtually a full season being packed into four months, it is difficult to predict how it will pan out," he says.
"I know it is going to be intense but I can only do my job to the best of my ability and the championship will take care of itself."
He is happy, of course, that the series gets under way at Donington, where he was in dominant form last year, winning two of the three races. A repeat performance would be an ideal start to this new look season.
Meanwhile, Josh McErlean and Josh Moffett have joined Craig Breen and Callum Devine on their Italian rally odyssey as they find ways to beat lockdown back home.
Breen, who finished fourth in last weekend's Rally di Roma, and Devine, sadly sidelined after the sump of his Hyundai was holed on the third stage, have moved on to the Rally di Alba, where McErlean and Moffett are included in an entry list which boasts the World champion Ott Tanak and Thierry Neuville in WRC Hyundais.
Over in Germany, Daniel Harper is back in action at the Nürburgring with his BMW Junior team-mates Max Hesse and Neil Verhagen. Having won last time out in their BMW 240 Racing, they step up to a GT4 version for the four-hour race this weekend.
Locally, the NI sprint Championship gets underway at Kirkistown tomorrow with a 100-plus entry list.