Belfast Telegraph

Colin Turkington: I'm chasing winning feeling more than British records

 

Happy family: Colin Turkington celebrates title glory with wife Louise and sons Adam and Louis
Happy family: Colin Turkington celebrates title glory with wife Louise and sons Adam and Louis

By Sammy Hamill

If Colin Turkington had taken his sons Louis and Adam for a day out at Blackpool or Alton Towers, he would never have endured - or enjoyed - a rollercoaster ride like the finale to the British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch.

It was up, down, down deeper still and then dramatically soaring to the darkening sky.

No wonder he, his family and his West Surrey Racing team were in tears as his BMW crossed the finish line in the final race of the year, securing Turkington's fourth BTCC title and his second in succession.

It meant he was a record-equalling champion, matching the successes of Andy Rouse over 30 years ago.

"It's obviously really cool. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would get close to Andy Rouse," he reflected. "But I don't think too much about records. I just want to win. The drug is standing on this podium.

"You have that feeling in your body. That's what I was chasing, not records. Just that feeling of elation. Nothing else in life gives you that."

But he didn't see this one coming, not after the weather and the rival Honda team seemed to be contriving to deny him the points he needed to stay top of a Championship he had led from mid-season.

His final weekend at the Kent circuit played out as follows.

Turkington surprised even himself by qualifying on pole position despite streaming wet conditions and his Series 3 BMW carrying maximum 'success' ballast. The extra point increased his lead to 16.

He quickly moved into the lead in race one and was starting to edge clear of the chasing pack when back marker Matt Simpson crashed heavily, damaging the tyre barriers. The safety car led them round for six agonising laps during which the rain returned and Turkington opted not to pit for wet tyres.

When the race resumed he was gobbled up by the Hondas of Dan Cammish and Matt Neal, and eventually finished fifth.

His lead was down to eight points as he lined up fifth for race two but he made a blistering start to jump to second behind Cammish, whose team-mate Neal then slammed into his BMW and sent it spinning onto the grass. He finished 25th, which allowed Cammish to take an eight-point lead into the last race.

An angry Turkington accused Neal of a "professional foul" to help his team-mate. "A red card offence," he called it and the stewards agreed, punishing Neal by endorsing his racing licence and docking him five grid places.

It did nothing to help Turkington's cause and he would have to start 25th on the grid with no hope, he thought, of progressing far enough to overturn Cammish's advantage. He openly conceded the title was gone.

With nothing to lose, he abandoned his usual studied, tactical approach for the last race, giving it one final desperate effort. In an astonishing charge, he tore past 10 cars on the first lap, passed Cammish's Honda, which had started 16 places ahead, and climbed into the top six.

It wasn't enough, of course, but then Cammish's orange and black Honda ploughed into the barriers on the penultimate lap, the result of brake failure. Turkington was champion by two points from his BMW team-mate Andrew Jordan and Cammish, who had lost the 2017 Porsche Carrera Cup to another Ulster driver, Charlie Eastwood.

"My engineer told me Dan was out of the race but I couldn't see Andy so I didn't know if that was enough. I was in shock when I crossed the finish line and was told I was champion," said Turkington.

"This has been my hardest Championship by a long shot - to win it two laps from the end of the season is completely different to the other ones. After race two I just didn't see it coming.

"But it shows you should never give up, never stop trying, and with this incredible team behind me, I know anything is possible.

"Four titles is amazing. Maybe that's me done now!"

That's just the shock talking. There is no chance he is walking away within sight of the all-time record. Roll on 2020.

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