Belfast Telegraph

Turkington heartbreaker but Eastwood takes Porsche title

 

By Sammy Hamill

Colin Turkington went down fighting as he always does but a third British Touring Car Championship eluded him in a dramatic finale to the series at Brands Hatch.

On a soggy Sunday when Charlie Eastwood hung on grimly to capture and the Porsche Carrera Cup and Daniel Harper finished his UK Ginetta Junior Championship career with back to back wins, Turkington was left reflect on a roller coaster weekend which saw the BTCC title go to Subaru's Ash Sutton.

There had been a nightmare start for the two-time champion from Portadown when an electrical fault in his West Surrey Racing BMW forced him to miss most of qualifying, resulting in a ninth row start in the first of the three races at the Kent circuit.

On slick tyres on a damp track, he made little progress, actually falling back to 19th before a late surge saw climb to 15th as Sutton took a third place which extended his lead to 22 points. Even Turkington thought his chance had gone.

But in an incredible comeback in race two he carved his way through the field, passing Sutton and latching on to the back of the leader, and first race winner Aiden Moffett, before nudging the Scot's Mercedes out of the way at Paddock Hill with two laps remaining.

Then he held his breath to see if race officials would take his win away, a win which narrowed the gap to Sutton to just six points. Instead they gave him a rap over the knuckles, fined him £500 and slapped three points on his competition licence but left him to fight out the championship in the final race.

In the gathering gloom and with the rain falling, Turkington made a strong start from 10th on the grid and was up to fifth with Sutton two places back when his heroic effort came to an end.

Mat Jackson half spun ahead of him, veering on to the grass and as his Ford Focus swung back on the track it hit the rear wheel of the BMW, breaking the suspension. End of the road, end of his title hopes, leaving Sutton to bring his Subaru safely home in third place to become champion for the first time.

Disappointed but philosophical, Turkington said: "That's the British Touring Car Championship for you. You never know how it is going to turn out.

"After our troubles in qualifying it was always going to be a long shot but the WSR guys gave me a great car for the second race and I made the most of it to keep our hopes alive.

"But sometimes it is taken out of your hands and there is nothing you can do about it."

Eastwood meanwhile was celebrating the narrowest of victories in the GB Porsche series. A fourth place finish in race one gave the young Belfast driver a six point lead over Dino Zamparelli going into the last race of the season but it all so nearly went wrong.

In third place behind out-going champion Dan Cammish and Zamparelli, Eastwood's Carrera was shunted of the track by Lewis Plato on the first lap, dropping him to sixth place.

He had to take at least fifth and fought a long duel with Tom Oliphant before squeezing ahead only to lose the place again when Plato blocked him. But in a frantic finish Eastwood forced his way past again, tying on points with Zamparelli but winning the title on a countback of wins.

Harper bowed out of the Ginetta Juniors with two impressive victories but missed out on the runners up position in the championship to Seb Priaulx by just two points. The title went to Tom Gamble.

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