Fabrizio Giovanardi may be one of the most experienced, and successful, touring car drivers in the world, a former three-time European champion and winner of countless races.
But Colin Turkington says he’s glad to be fighting out the finish of the British Touring Car Championship with the 43-year-old Italian.
They go into the penultimate series of races at Rockingham this weekend with Turkington leading Giovanardi, the champion for the past two years, by 11 points. With 52 points still to play for, the 27-year-old from Portadown doesn’t expect the series to be settled until the final round at Brands Hatch a fortnight later.
“It’s just the way it’s been this season. The title normally comes right down to Finals Day anyway — that’s the nature of the BTCC — but this year it’s been closer than ever,” says Turkington, lead driver for BMW’s Team RAC.
“The fans watching trackside and on TV are in for a treat. I think it’s going be more enjoyable for them than it is for the drivers involved. It’s going to be a nail-biter.
“When I started my career my dream was only ever of making it to the BTCC, never of actually being in a position to win it, but here I am and I need to make the most of the moment.
“Chances like this don’t come around every year.”
For the second event in a row, Turkington will be backed up by two-mates — regular partner Stephen Jelley and recently recalled veteran Anthony Reid — to help counter the support Giovanardi enjoys from fellow Vauxhall drivers Matt Neal and Andrew Jordan.
It’s a move that’s in direct response to Neal having helped Giovanardi gain extra points rounds ago, but Turkington has no complaints.
“It’s part of the game at this stage of the season, but there’s been no foul play so far,” he says.
“I’m sure there won’t be any of that and I think I can speak for Fabrizio when I say neither of us would want it to be sorted out like that.
“We’ve had some very good races between ourselves in the last two rounds and I’m glad it’s him I’m fighting against because it’s known around the world what a high calibre driver he is.”
Sunday’s three races will be shown live on ITV4 starting from 11am.