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Turkington and co target the top step after close calls

 

By Sammy Hamill

There were podium places aplenty for Ulster drivers when the British Touring Car Championship and its supporting categories kicked off at Brands Hatch a fortnight ago.

Colin Turkington, Daniel Harper and Charlie Eastwood (twice) got to spray celebration champagne. What was missing however was the chance to stand on the top step as a winner.

All three are eager to change that at Donington this weekend, especially Turkington who had his Brands Hatch return to the West Surrey BMW team spoiled by an accident before the first of the BTCC races had barely begun.

The two-time champion collided with the Honda of Matt Neal as they jockeyed for position off the startline, eliminating both cars and relegating them to the back of the grid for race two.

But Turkington showed his class and his determination by battling his way into the top 10 and in race three the Portadown driver came within inches of snatching victory from his BMW team-mate Andrew Jordan.

He says he is happy to have rescued himself from "a potentially disastrous weekend" but adds: "It's now important to take what we have learned from Brands Hatch and move on.

"It's fantastic to be back with WSR and I am keen to reward their hard work with a strong set of results this weekend," says Turkington.

It was a less than happy debut for Chris Smiley and the new Ulster-owned Norlin Chevrolet team at the Kent circuit, the Carrickfergus driver losing a rear wheel in race one and being shunted off the track in race two.

Team-mate Dave Newsham did pick up their first points with 14th in race three and Smiley made it over the finish line in 25th, encouragement as they head for Donington where Honda's current champion Gordon Sheddon starts as series leader.

Meanwhile, Charlie Eastwood collected two second places in the GB Porsche Carrera Cup, the reigning rookie champion from Belfast shadowing the overall champion Dan Cammish to the chequered flag each time.

Now Eastwood, who had his first outright win towards the end of last season, feels he is starting to close the gap on the vastly experienced Cammish, champion for the past two years.

Another rookie champion, Daniel Harper, took third place in the second of the UK Ginetta Junior rounds, the Hillsborough youngster fighting back after being spun off in race one.

They will all feature in live coverage from Donington on ITV4 on Sunday.

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