Turkington right at home after WSR return
Colin Turkington's British Touring Car career has revolved around West Surrey Racing. Theirs has been an on-off relationship stretching back the best part of a decade and twice brought him the championship.
Now they are back together again after a two-year gap and Turkington will be on board a West Surrey BMW 125i when the BTCC series kicks off at Brands Hatch this weekend. And he couldn't be happier.
"Like going home," said the Portadown driver, who was champion in 2009 and again in 2014, but afterwards had to part company each time with Dick Bennetts and WSR for budgetary reasons. Significantly, perhaps, they have not won the drivers' title in any of the intervening years, so boss Bennetts is delighted to have Turkington back to lead a team which now has BMW manufacturer backing for the first time.
"To race for Team BMW is a dream come true," said Turkington. "WSR is like a second home to me and to be part of a manufacturer entry as well really raises the stakes. Brands Hatch is an incredibly important circuit in terms of my BTCC career.
"I had my first win and first pole position there and secured both of my championship titles at the track. I'd love to add to those successes this weekend with the latest version of the BMW. It seems to be a car that was made for tracks like the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit because it's so strong in terms of traction and looking after its tyres. I'm expecting a strong weekend."
Turkington rejoins WSR to partner new recruit Andrew Jordan, another former champion, and team stalwart Rob Collard as they try to wrestle the drivers' championship away from Gordon Sheddon and Honda.
For the past two years, Turkington has driven for Team BMR and won four times in their Subarus last season, and with record winner Jason Plato in their ranks they will be contenders too, as will drivers like Tom Chilton, Mat Jackson and Tom Ingram.
And for the first time Turkington could have company at the sharp end of the grid from a fellow Ulsterman. Chris Smiley returns to the series with Belfast owner Norlin Racing and showed his potential with the third-fastest time in his Chevrolet Cruze during the official test at Donington two weeks ago.
Qualifying is tomorrow afternoon with three races on Sunday, all of them televised live on ITV4. The TV package also includes the Porsche Carrera Cup and the UK Ginetta Junior championship which features two rising Northern Ireland stars, Charlie Eastwood and Daniel Harper, who won the respective rookie championships last season.