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Turkington aiming to boost title bid by racking up BMW's century

 

By Sammy Hamill

Colin Turkington is hoping to bring up BMW's 100th success in the British Touring Car Championship.

The two-time champion from Portadown goes into this weekend's trio of races at the ultra-fast Thruxton circuit second in the series but also with BMW sitting on 99 BTCC victories.

It was Turkington who achieved their 99th win last time out at Donington and he would be thrilled if he can bring up the milestone mark on Sunday. And even though his West Surrey Racing 125i M-Sport will be heavy on success ballast, it points to the fact he has been a BMW winner there in the past.

"Thruxton is the fastest circuit in the UK and the high-speed, bumpy nature of the track makes it a unique challenge, but one I really enjoy. I have a pretty good record there, including three wins, and I think we'll be fast again this time," he said confidently.

"We had a productive test at Thruxton recently and that has given us good direction for this weekend. Getting the suspension and tyre set-up right is crucial, as you need to be fast at the end of the race.

"With 57kg of ballast on board, qualifying and the first race will be a challenge, but the BMW is strong over a race distance, so I'm sure we can get some big points and hopefully that 100th win."

Despite difficulties in the first two meetings, including a startline collision with the Honda of Matt Neal in the opening race of the season at Brands Hatch, Turkington is up to second in the standings, 14 points behind the surprise leader Tom Ingram and two ahead of reigning champion Gordon Sheddon.

Hoping for a change of luck will be Chris Smylie. The Carrickfergus driver's new Ulster-owned Norlin team have shown promising pace with their Chevrolet Cruzes in all six races so far but have been in the wars too.

Experienced team-mate Dave Newsham battled his way to fourth place behind Turkington in the third of the Donington races, their best result to date, but Smylie is paying the price for lowly starting positions and is still chasing his first top-15 finish.

Turkington was one of three Ulster drivers on the podium at Donington three weeks ago, joining Charlie Eastwood and Daniel Harper in spraying champagne from the top step.

Eastwood scored back-to-back wins in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB and now leads the series ahead of Dan Cammish, the champion for the past two years.

And 16-year-old Harper recorded his first win of the season to move into second place in the UK Ginetta Junior Championship five points behind leader Tom Gamble.

Turkington and co will all feature in ITV4's day-long coverage from Thruxton on Sunday.

Meanwhile, car racing returns to Bishopscourt this weekend with the line-up including rounds three and four of the SEAT Supercup Ireland and the BMW 3301 Cup. Practice and qualifying tomorrow with a full programme of races on Sunday.

Belfast Telegraph

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