Belfast Telegraph

A British racing hat-trick and history on the line for Ulster trio

 

Finish line: Colin Turkington chases a fourth British Touring title for BMW on Sunday
Finish line: Colin Turkington chases a fourth British Touring title for BMW on Sunday
Colin Turkington
Daniel Harper
Jack Young

By Sammy Hamill

Daniel Harper has already done his part and now it is down to Colin Turkington and Jack Young to try to deliver a first hat-trick of British racing titles for Northern Ireland.

All three are in action in front of the ITV4 TV cameras in the final round of races at Brands Hatch this weekend and while Harper can luxuriate in the security of already being the youngest champion in the history of the Porsche Carrera Cup, Turkington and Young have work to do.

Their title-chasing campaigns have brought highs and lows for both of them but they go into the season finale as leaders of the British Touring Car Championship and the UK Renault Clio Cup respectively, the prestigious prizes tantalisingly close.

Turkington, now 37, has been there and done it all before, clinching the BTCC title at the former grand prix circuit three times in the past, but for Young, who turns 18 tomorrow, it will be a totally new experience as he seeks to become the youngest winner of the Clio Cup.

The Methodist College student has fought hard - too hard at times according to officials who have stripped him of three victories - to take a 15-point lead over arch-rival Max Coates into the final two races.

So close has been their battle they have clashed numerous times and are far from best friends. But Young wasn't to blame when, possibly, the decisive moment came last time out at Silverstone, the Belfast teenager in the clear in front when a pursuing Coates was shunted off track by Jade Edwards.

Despite their animosity, Young felt for Coates. "Max and I have had our rivalry this year, but 100% that is not what I'd wish on him or anyone," said Young.

"But we've seen how fortunes can change in a split second and I'm sure he will come to Brands throwing everything at it. We need to be ready for that."

Turkington has been in the wars, too, with recent incidents at Knockhill and Silverstone contributing to a 44-point lead earlier in the season being reduced to 16 as he heads for Brands.

In BTCC terms it is nothing. There are 67 at stake and the Ulsterman must qualify and start the first of the three races with his BMW again weighed down with 'success' ballast of 54 kilos as leader of the championship.

Turkington has been forced to show his fighting qualities as well to rescue a potentially disastrous weekend at Silverstone and stay ahead of the increasing challenge of Honda's Dan Cammish and his own West Surrey Racing BMW team-mate Andrew Jordan who is 17 points adrift.

"Being the championship leader for the finale comes with its challenges but we have worked harder than ever from Silverstone to arrive at Brands in the best possible shape," he says.

"I've never been more fired up to win this. It's been an intense season, but I've maximised everything I could. This weekend I need to keep the pressure on, and extract every last ounce of performance from myself and the car."

Turkington's fellow Ulsterman Chris Smylie and Josh Cook have taken their BTC Racing Honda team to second in the Independents' Cup just four points behind the similar Civics of leaders Cobra Sport.

Harper, meanwhile, may already be Carrera champion, emulating 2017 winner Charlie Eastwood, but the 18-year-old from Hillsborough is determined to add to his seven victories and finish his season on a high.

The Brands Hatch races will be live on ITV4 from 10.30am on Sunday.

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