Belfast Telegraph

Turkington returns to same old in new car

By Sammy Hamill

The surroundings will be familiar but Colin Turkington is stepping back into the unknown this weekend.

He returns to the British Touring Car Championship at the same Brands Hatch circuit where, three years ago, he became the first Irish driver to win the prestigious title.

But a lot has changed since Turkington bowed out as British champion with new cars and new faces on the grid. And he, too, will be in a car which has not raced in the series before.

Gone is the iconic BMW 320 in which he has spent most of his racing career, and carried him to the title in 2009, to be replaced by a new generation (called NGTC) BMW 125i.

He drove the eBay Motors-sponsored machine for the first time in an official pre-season test at Donington last week where he ended up 10th fastest and 1.3 seconds off the pace being set by the Honda of Andrew Jordan.

But Turkington insists he is not worried. "I was pleased with the car towards the end of the test," he said. "I am still finding my feet with the NGTC car and I did not make any major changes to the settings, so I know there is more to come."

His WSR team-mates Rob Collard and Nick Foster were even further back, 16th and 17th fastest, so clearly there is work to be done to get the new BMWs towards the front of the grid.

Team boss Dick Bennetts remains cautiously optimistic. "We're starting to learn more about the NGTC BMW but we ran different set-ups on the two cars and now have a lot of data to look at to see where we need to improve," he said.

"We weren't concerned about the test lap times and didn't run the new softer tyre like some of the others. For sure we can win races in the future, we just haven't done enough miles yet."

Turkington will face several old rivals on Sunday including multi-champion Jason Plato, now driving for MG, 2012 winner Gordon Sheddon and Honda team-mate Matt Neal.

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