Belfast Telegraph

World Series: Turkington keen to stay out of trouble

By Sammy Hamill

Colin Turkington returns this weekend to the scene of his finest moment in touring car racing.

It was at Brands Hatch last October that a tearful Turkington clinched the British title.

But now it is the World Series and the Portadown driver makes his second appearance of the season in the West Surrey Racing team’s eBay Motors BMW.

And he is hoping to steer clear of the trouble he experienced at Portimao in Portugal last month. Bumping by rivals cost him two top-10 finishes and two independents’ category victories.

“I was unlucky in the two races, but I learned a lot,” he said afterwards.

“The pace of the car was good and there are many positive signs that we can take with us to the next couple of events.”

Brands Hatch is one of Turkington’s favourite circuits.

He scored his first BTCC victory there in 2002 and has won several times since.

Most memorably, it was at the Kent track that he fought off the tough challenge of Fabrizio Giovanardi in the final race of the season to become 2009 champion.

“It’s good to be back at Brands,” he said. “And as I have raced here more recently than the other WTCC drivers, I hope to have a small advantage.”

Class act Turkington is one of five British drivers taking part, including three-time world champion Andy Priaulx, who will also be at the wheel of a BMW 2002.

Qualifying takes place this afternoon for tomorrow’s two races.

Meanwhile, in 2009 the Rally Azores was a dream for Kris Meeke, but this year it has become a nightmare.

Virtually everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.

Two punctures and a spin saw him finish in fifth place last night and with the top five on the leaderboard re-starting in reverse order he will be back sweeping away the top layer of loose gravel for the following cars.

As reigning Intercontinental Challenge champion — and last year’s Azores winner — Meeke was first on the road for the first leg on Thursday, but drove strategically to get himself into sixth place.

Still only 12 seconds off the lead, he thought he was “perfectly placed” to mount a challenge to the leading Peugeot of Portuguese champion Bruno Maghalaes and the Skodas of Juho Hanninen and Jan Kopecky yesterday.

But Meeke’s hopes were quickly dashed with a puncture on the first stage, which damaged the suspension of his Peugeot and led to a costly spin on stage three.

To compound his problems, he had another puncture at the start of yesterday’s final loop and ended up 50 seconds behind and in the dreaded fifth place.

Maghalaes continued to lead the rally last night, but was just over two seconds ahead of championship leader Hanninen, who had opened up an eight-second gap to Skoda team-mate Kopecky.

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