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Troubled times but Turkington proves a winner

 

By Sammy Hamill

It has hardly been the start to the British Touring Car Championship Colin Turkington envisaged or hoped for when he re-joined West Surrey Racing and slipped back into a BMW.

Two meetings into the 2017 season and he's been in trouble in both.

Yet the two-time champion from Portadown finds himself sitting in second place in the standings, seven points behind leader Tom Ingram after the first six races. It has been a rollercoaster start.

Turkington was in buoyant mood when he returned to WSR, the team he regards as his spiritual BTCC home. It is where he won his titles in 2009 and 2014. Rightly he had thoughts of a third championship.

But less than 20 seconds into the first race of the year at Brands Hatch he found himself parked on the grass at the side of the track, his BMW damaged after a collision with the Honda of Matt Neal.

It meant Turkington was on the back foot - and the back of the grid - for race two. But he passed something approaching 20 cars in his climb to ninth place, setting fastest lap along the way.

And in another stunning drive he raced to the front, finishing in second place just inches behind his new WSR team-mate Andrew Jordan. He had, he said, rescued himself from "a potentially disastrous weekend."

It would be different at Donington, venue for round two last weekend, wouldn't it? Not quite.

Fluid leaked from the BMW sidelined Turkington during qualifying and he found himself starting back on the fifth row on a track which doesn't traditionally favour the rear-wheel-drive BMWs. It was going to be another uphill fight.

But testimony to Turkington's determination and racecraft - and a little bit of luck - he emerged with a lorry load of points and his first win of the year, albeit at the expense of champion Gordon Sheddon whose Honda failed a ride-height check after he won race three.

"To come away with a victory from a track like Donington, where we'd pretty much accepted we'd be on damage-limitation duty, is fantastic and I'm absolutely made up for everyone at Team BMW and WSR," he said.

"The conditions were dreadful at the start of race three; I was struggling to see through all the spray but things worked out nicely in the end. To be able to score good points with fourth and fifth is extremely helpful for the championship and puts us in a great position heading to the next round at Thruxton."

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