Belfast Telegraph

Turkington goes flat out to capitalise on Donington double

 

Thruxton challenge: the brave get rewarded says Turkington
Thruxton challenge: the brave get rewarded says Turkington

By Sammy Hamill

After a shaky start at Brands Hatch, Colin Turkington got the defence of his British Touring Car title up and running at Donington with pole position, fastest lap and two dominant lights-to-flag victories.

They saw the Portadown driver jump 10 places to third in the championship standings but, almost as importantly, proved he was rapidly getting to grips with his new car, the West Surrey Racing team's 3 Series BMW.

He won the title for a third time in 2018 in a 1 Series, but the decision was taken to switch to the latest model, resulting in a hectic build programme during the winter to prepare cars for Turkington and team-mates Tom Oliphant and Andrew Jordan.

And while Jordan won at Brands Hatch, Turkington took time to adapt. But then came Donington where he was imperious despite it not traditionally being a BMW circuit.

"A step by step" approach, he calls it, and heads for Thruxton this weekend buoyed by the progress he has made.

"The consistency of results we achieved at Donington was very rewarding and confirms we are going the right way," he said.

"This step by step process allows us to move forwards with confidence and that's key in the fierce battlefield of the BTCC."

Confidence in the car is vital at Thruxton, which is Britain's fastest circuit, a high speed ride through the flat-out curves.

Turkington has won there four times in the past and adds: "It's a track I enjoy, and it certainly rewards bravery. We think it should suit the characteristics of the 3 Series better than the 1 Series, particularly in terms of stability through the high-speed corners.

"We had a test there last month which was very productive. It gave me the opportunity to tailor the new car a lot more to my liking. With so few opportunities to run at Thruxton, it was important to make the most of the time we had and I think we did just that."

Turkington is just five points adrift of the Subaru of series leader Ash Sutton and two behind the Honda of Josh Cook, both winners already this season.

But while Cook has enjoyed a strong start, his BTC Racing team-mate and Turkington's fellow Ulsterman Chris Smiley has been in the wars. The Carrickfergus driver has been fast but unlucky, caught up in trouble that wasn't of his own making.

"It's been a story of 'what if' - plenty of pace and an Independents' Trophy win but a couple of big setbacks. It can only get better," he insists.

Two of Ulster's rising stars, Daniel Harper and Jack Young, sit this weekend out as the Porsche Carrera Cup and the Renault Clio are not included in the Thruxton programme.

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