Colin Turkington proved a three-year absence has done little to take away his competitive edge, with an outstanding weekend performance that has given him plenty of reason for optimism.
Not only did he make a double appearance on the British Touring Car Championship podium at Oulton Park, Chesire, at the weekend, but he has shaken off the affects of an attack of Bell's Palsy which has dogged him for the past few months. The 2009 BTCC champion from Portadown has already been a winner this season, but it was his Oulton performances which had him smiling again.
Turkington is back with his old West Surrey Racing team but is now driving one of the new generation turbo-charged BMW 125i cars. It has taken WSR some time to get up to speed with the latest additions to the BTCC grid, but Sunday showed Turkington is on the pace again, even though his team-mates Nick Foster and Rob Collard are still struggling.
"This is the first time this year I've got podiums on true pace," he said. "We have got the car hooked up now and have definitely moved it forward. It's nice to be mixing it up at the sharp end again."
Turkington took fifth place in race one at Oulton, despite a slow puncture caused by part of another car's bumper getting stuck under his eBay BMW. He followed up with third place in race two and then second behind Andrew Jordan's Honda in race three.
Colin, who is now up to sixth in the BTCC standings, has made no secret of the fact he was suffering from Bell's Palsy.
He said: "I have been suffering from a strange condition called Bell's Palsy, which made one side of my face numb and gave me one of those weird crooked smiles like you get when you have injections at the dentist.
"But I'm glad to tell you I'm over it and am feeling 100 per cent. Incredibly, nobody is totally sure of what causes Bell's Palsy or what the cure is. But it has gone now and I'm happy to be able to smile again."