Belfast Telegraph

Turk left gutted as lack of cash ends title bid

By Sammy Hamill

Colin Turkington has become the latest motorsport victim of the economic recession.

The Portadown driver was the first Northern Ireland winner of the prestigious British Touring Car Championship title last year, but he will not be back to defend his crown.

With the start the new season just two weeks away he has admitted defeat in the hunt for funding for his 2010 campaign.

“We have contacted close to 80 companies since Christmas, but haven’t been able to secure anything like the funding required for this season despite the high profile of the BTCC and the 100-plus hours of television coverage the series receives,” said Turkington.

“It is a huge disappointment, but I suppose it is just a reflection of the difficult times all businesses are experiencing.”

Turkington’s troubles began shortly after he won the title for Team RAC in a gripping, last-race climax at Brands Hatch last October. The RAC had reached the end of their three-year sponsorship programme with the West Surrey Racing team and announced that they would be reducing their involvement for 2010.

Since then, Turkington and WSR boss Dick Bennetts have been searching for a replacement sponsor, but without success.

“Motor racing at this level is a business, an expensive business, and while Dick has made it clear he wants me back in the team it has to be paid for and we haven’t been able to come up with the money,” said Turkington.

“It is as simple as that. It means I won’t be defending my title when the season starts at Thruxton over Easter weekend. I’m devastated to be honest — it will be the first time since 2003 I haven’t been racing in the BTCC, but never say never.

“I’m still trying my best to find the funding and West Surrey have a car there for me if something can be sorted out for later in the sea

son, but even if that happens I wouldn’t be in a position to fight for the championship. After the highs of winning last season it is hard to get your head round the fact it is all over — for now at least.”

Turkington’s title-winning WSR team will still be in the BTCC this season having signed one of his former team-mates, Rob Collard and Andy Neate who is returning to racing after a life-threatening sportscar accident 18 months ago.

l IT was first blood to Kris Meeke as Rally Argentina began with a superspecial stage through the streets of Carlos Paz near Cordoba.

The Ulsterman, the reigning Intercontinental Challenge champion, was fastest in his Super 2000 Peugeot, beating Portuguese champion Bruno Magalhaes by just over a second on the four kilometre sprint.

The two Peugeot drivers led the way from the Skodas of Guy Wilks, Jan Kopecky and Juho Hanninen with local Argentinian local hero Federico Villagra sixth in one of the latest Ford Fiestas.

Meeke was two seconds quicker than British rival Wilks and three ahead of Hanninen.

One of the pre-event favourites, Nasser Al-Attiyah in another Skoda, was eighth fastest and already 10 seconds down on Meeke.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph