Colin Turkington ready to get down to business in title chase
Sitting in third place, just 12 points off the lead, Colin Turkington feels he is well placed to challenge for a third British Touring Car Championship crown as the series resumes at Snetterton this weekend after the summer break.
It is what Turkington calls the "business part of the season" when every race is critical in the countdown to the season finale at Brands Hatch in October.
Back with West Surrey Racing, now officially Team BMW, the Portadown driver has had his difficulties, notably being eliminated in a start line incident in the very first race and a frustrating misfire which hampered him at Oulton Park.
But Turkington has responded in typical fashion, clawing his way back into the title fight with a trio of wins, podium finishes and extra fastest lap points - indeed, he will have been buoyed by the statistics which show he has recorded more fastest laps than any other driver before the summer break.
And he finished "with the wind in my sails" by winning the final race in the first half of the season at Croft - his 12th victory at the north Yorkshire circuit.
Turkington goes to Snetterton 12 points adrift of Honda's Gordon Sheddon, the reigning champion, but just one behind his BMW team-mate Rob Collard.
He's happy with that, pointing out that tactics play a significant part in BTCC racing as the most successful drivers are handicapped by having to carry weight ballast.
"The extra weight can make a difference, so, ideally, you only want to be leading the championship after the last race," he said with a smile.
There are another 15 races before that and Turkington's aim is to stay in contention until Brands Hatch, which is where he won the title in 2009 and 2014.
Meanwhile, fellow Ulsterman Chris Smylie will be looking to build on the progress he has been making in his first season with the Northern Ireland-owned BTC Norlin Chrysler team.
The 23-year-old from Carrickfergus has a best result so far of 13th, and that came in the last race at Croft, which has given him added momentum as he targets top-10 finishes with his Chevrolet Cruze.
"That's an achievable goal given our race pace," said Smylie. "The problem has been qualifying and if we improve our starting position I'm confident we can be challenging for top-10 places."
In action, too, at Snetterton this weekend are Charlie Eastwood in the GB Porsche Carrera Cup and teenager Daniel Harper in the UK Ginetta Junior series.
Eastwood sits second in the standings and with leader Dan Cammish otherwise engaged in the Spa 24-hour race, the Belfast driver has the opportunity to overtake his Redline Racing team-mate at the top of the table.
Young Harper has had a torrid time in recent Ginetta races, but the 2016 rookie champion is still fourth in the championship and, now free from the distraction of exams, he can concentrate on closing the gap to leader Sebastien Priaulx.