Turk to face six past champions
It is being billed as the 'Battle of the Magnificent Seven' – seven past champions going head-to-head in the 2014 British Touring Car Championship.
And one of them is Colin Turkington, the 2009 title winner from Portadown.
In a situation unprecedented in the history of Britain's premier race series he will be up against a 30-strong field which includes the Hondas of Matt Neal, Gordon Shedden and reigning champion Andrew Jordan as well as the MG of double winner Jason Plato plus returning Europeans Fabrizio Giovanardi (Ford Focus) and Alain Menu (VW).
It is a formidable line-up for the opening round of the championship at Brands Hatch this weekend but Turkington, who is back with the West Surrey team for a second season in the eBay Motors BMW 125i, is itching to get started.
"I am coming off the back of a relatively positive year in the new generation car and we have a bit more confidence with the package now.
"The whole project has moved forward over the winter with upgrades to the aerodynamics and tweaks to the engines," said Turkington, who won five times in 2013 and was unlucky to finish only fifth in the standings.
A 24-time race winner in the BTCC, he is only too aware that the rise in the competition level this season will mean he will have to perform at the top of his game to give himself the best chance of a second title.
"I will be looking for a greater level of consistency across the season and we don't want so many peaks and troughs.
That's my game plan and I think it is the way to win the championship," added Turkington. The series will again be televised live on Sundays throughout the year by ITV4 with the programmes also featuring the Ginetta Super Cup in which 19-year-old Andrew Watson from Donaghmore will be in action.
Having graduated for the Ginetta junior championship, Watson, a student at Trinity College, showed up strongly in last year's Super Cup, qualifying on pole position at Knockhill, finishing on the podium three times and placed seventh in the series.
Driving one of the powerful 3.8 litre, V6 engined Ginettas for the Douglas Motorsport team, Watson could be another young Ulsterman to watch this year.