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Cheers and tears as an emotional Turkington clinches his third crown

 

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Champagne moment: Colin Turkington celebrates his British Touring Car Championship title victory

Champagne moment: Colin Turkington celebrates his British Touring Car Championship title victory

Champagne moment: Colin Turkington celebrates his British Touring Car Championship title victory

An emotional, almost disbelieving Colin Turkington was crowned British Touring Car champion for a third time at Brands Hatch yesterday but not before it was almost snatched away from him in a dramatic last day of the series.

In fact as his BMW trailed across the line down in 22nd place in the penultimate race of the year he didn't know he was champion. It needed a radio call from his West Surrey Racing team to tell him - and even his full-face helmet couldn't obscure the tears welling up in his eyes.

Leader of the championship by 34 points going into the final day he knew it was all about staying out of trouble and matching the performance of his closest rival Tom Ingram. And it went to plan in race one, finishing 12th but with Ingram's Speedworks Toyota behind him.

But it all went wrong in race two as Turkington got swallowed up in a mid-pack battle as Ingram surged towards the front. It got worse when, ironically, the Northern Ireland owned BTC Norlin team Honda of Dan Lloyd turned in as Turkngton tried to pass, sending the BMW sliding across the Brands Hatch gravel.

From a solid top 15 position which have assured him of the title, he went plunging to the pack of the field. "At that point I was preparing myself for the last race and wondering how I was going to get into the points from 20 something on the grid," he admitted.

But up at the front, as the Honda of Dan Cammish headed for its second win of the day, Turkington's WSR team-mate Andrew Jordan had stemmed Ingram's charge, stubbornly denying him the third place which would have taken the destiny of the championship into the final race.

It wasn't how the Portadown man had envisaged becoming champion for a third time but it wasn't down to one race. It was all about his consistency, his professionalism, over the season.

And as his family and the WSR team danced in celebration in the pit lane, Colin was trying to keep his emotions in check and was thinking of his mum Mavis who died during the summer.

"That was the most difficult race of the year," said Turkington in his post-race interview. "I was trying so hard. We didn't have the car to go forward and I was getting shuffled back so quickly. I was driving around there preparing for a dog fight in race three thinking 'how on earth I was going to get forward'.

"I wasn't expecting the news on the radio that I'd won. I'm so pleased for so many people. The first one, I really wanted it for me. It was my goal in 2009 and I wanted it more than anything.

"With BMW's support coming on-board last year, it's so special to win it for them. It's an amazing achievement and for West Surrey Racing, too - they never give up. We're always the last in the pits on Saturday evening - we just work, work, work. That's the secret.

"We never had the fastest car this year but we just kept at it, scoring points.

"I'm so pleased for my family. We knew coming into the season that you've just got to score points. It's very difficult to do as you can see from that race. I've had one win but 10 podium finishes and they are as good as wins in this championship."

Job done, a drained Turkington coasted through the final race, finishing down the field as Ash Sutton took the last win of the season. Chris Smiley ended his season with 12th and 8th places in the Norlin Honda.

Daniel Harper couldn't make it a winning finish to his first season in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB despite qualifying on pole position for the first of yesterday's two races.

The Hillsborough teenager spun out of second place in race one, finishing back in 12th place, and then climbed to fourth in race two behind the new champion Tio Elinias.

Meanwhile, David McCullough joined his brother Ivor as winner of the Martin Donnelly Trophy at Kirkistown on Saturday.

The Ballymena driver in his Van Diemen won the big end-of-season race ahead of another past winner, Noel Robinson, in a thrilling finish which saw the other McCullough taking third place.

Earlier in the day, Matt Round-Garrido clinched the Dawson-WAM NI Formula Ford championship when he won the penultimate round of the series. The English teenager also qualified on pole position for the Donnelly Trophy but he failed to make the startline after crackling the gearbox casing of his Medina during the second NI race which was won by Alan Davidson.

Belfast Telegraph