Belfast Telegraph

Past glory can help me regain British title: Turkington

 

By Sammy Hamill

Colin Turkington has won the title twice in the past, and he is banking on his experience of tight fights as the British Touring Car Championship comes down to the crunch.

There are just six races left, starting with three at Silverstone on Sunday followed by the finale at Brands Hatch at the end of the month, and Turkington is handily placed just 12 points behind leader Ash Sutton with 130 still to play for.

The two of them have pulled clear of Honda's Gordon Sheddon, the reigning champion who is third, one point ahead of Turkington's BMW team-mate Rob Collard. And if Turkington needs any extra incentive to challenge for a third Championship it must be the fact that Sutton is driving for the BMR Subaru team the Ulsterman left at the end of last season to re-join West Surrey Racing.

But he's back in the BMWs which carried him to the title in 2009 and 2014 and confident he made the right decision.

He sees West Surrey as his racing home and has strong belief in Dick Bennetts and the team to deliver a winning package when it matters most.

"I'm confident that drawing on our experience of winning will be the secret in pulling the points back," he said.

"That's where having an experienced team like WSR is really going to pay off. We've won titles together before, and that knowledge and experience will help us tackle this weekend exactly as we need to.

"Silverstone's layout promotes close lap times, so you really have to be at the top of your game and drive with absolute precision.

"Qualifying will be important as overtaking opportunities are limited and the aim will be to get as far up the grid as I can and take it one race at a time after that.

"This is one of the toughest Championships in the world to win and at this stage of the season the pressure and demands on the drivers is substantial. But I've been here before. I know what I need to do."

It's proved a tough baptism for Turkington's fellow Ulsterman on the grid Chris Smylie, who is in his debut season with the Northern Ireland-owned BTC Norlin Chevrolet team. But he made a big breakthrough in the previous round at Rockingham with two top-10 finishes and is now looking to build on that progress.

In action, too, at the Northamptonshire circuit will be Charlie Eastwood, leader of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB series. But the young Belfast driver will be up against it this weekend after incurring a 10-place grid penalty for what was deemed an over-aggressive move on his Redline Racing team-mate Dan Cammish in the last round at Knockhill.

He was also docked three points for his robust defence of the lead which resulted in Cammish's Carrera sliding into the barriers on the final lap.

Daniel Harper continues his fight for the Ginetta Junior Championship, going into the Silverstone races in third after three podium places at Rockingham, including two wins.

Meanwhile, Keith Cronin continues his bid for a fourth British rally title on the Isle of Man this afternoon knowing he must win both legs of the Manx round in order to overhaul Sweden's Fredrik Ahlin at the top of the standings. Even then it may not be enough for the Irishman.

Belfast Telegraph

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