Puncture leaves Colin Turkington feeling flat at Brands Hatch
Colin Turkington was left down and deflated as his dream of back-to-back British Tour Car titles evaporated - literally - in the final round of races at Brands Hatch.
The double champion from Portadown was forced to retire from the second of the three races at the Kent grand prix circuit yesterday when his Team BRM Volkswagen suffered a front wheel puncture, ruling him out for the fight for the championship which, in the end, went to Honda's Gordon Sheddon.
Turkington, third in the standings behind Sheddon and BMR team-mate Jason Plato, finished ahead of both of them in race one, taking fifth place and narrowing the gap to 27 points. But starting in mid-field in race two, he made little progress and was 12th when a flat wheel forced him into retirement. Compounding Turkington's disappointment was the fact that Sheddon was also in trouble, finishing back in 19th and out of the points. Plato finished sixth to close in on the Scot as Mat Jackson made it two wins out of two.
And although Plato won the final race of the season, a stunning drive by Sheddon from 19th on the grid to fourth was enough to ensure he became champion for a second time. Turkington, from the back of the grid, climbed to 12th, but by then his title hopes were long gone. There was desperate disappointment, too, for Craig Breen who saw his hopes of becoming European rally championship destroyed by a fierce storm in Greece.
The Acropolis Rally had already been hit with unseasonal weather, which left the gravel stages inches deep in mud, but when the storm intensified yesterday the organisers were forced to cancel the final three stages leaving Breen stuck in second place behind the new champion Kejatan Kejatanowicz.
Breen had forced his way into the lead yesterday only to fall behind the Ford of Kajetanowicz when the bonnet of his Peugeot came loose and blew up over the windscreen. It cost him over 30 seconds and dropped him back to second. But with three stages remaining Breen was confident to could make up the 10 second deficit only for more torrential rain to bring the rally to an end.
"I'm gutted. Fastest for most of the rally but nobody can do anything about the weather," said a frustrated Breen, the Acropolis winner last year.
Locally, Declan Boyle won the Harvest Rally in Donegal, bringing his WRC Ford Fiesta to the finish one-and-a-half minutes ahead of Gary McTiernan's Ford Escort with Wesley Patterson third, also in an Escort. Daniel McKenna was fourth, scoring the best result to date with the DGM team's development Toyota GT86.
Peadar Hurson led for the first three stages but a mechanical problem forced the retirement of his Subaru.