Turkington on the hunt for a share of BTCC title record
It is a new season and a new car but a familiar challenge for Colin Turkington as he starts his quest to become just the second four-time champion in the history of the British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch this weekend.
It was at the Kent circuit, amid emotional scenes back in October, that the Portadown driver won the most prestigious title in British motor racing for a third time and now he returns as motivated as ever - perhaps more so - as he lines out for the start of a 30-race schedule with No.1 on the door of his West Surrey Racing BMW.
It will be a different style of BMW this time, a 3 Series, which replaces the 1 Series, and for the first time it will carry the distinctive No.1 decal.
"Despite being champion in 2009 and again in 2014, this is the first time I've been able to continue with WSR following a victorious season and I'm thrilled we can do it in a new car for Team BMW," he explained.
"The winter has passed quickly and I've been working closely with our engineering team over the past few weeks, doing all we can to fast track our understanding of the 330i which is a different car with different characteristics."
One of the most tactically astute drivers on the BTCC grid, Turkington is well aware of what it takes to become champion but knows he will have a fight on his hands if he wants to emulate Andy Rouse as the only four-time champion.
"The grid looks as strong as ever and I'm prepared for a hard battle for points. It won't be easy to retain my title but ultimately that is the target for sure," he asserts.
Turkington is joined on the grid by fellow Ulsterman Chris Smiley who is looking to build on the momentum gained from a breakthrough win at Rockingham in 2018. It is a new car for him, too, this season, his BTC Racing team having stepped up to the latest FK8 Honda Civics with new Swindon engines.
"It's looking really positive so far," said the 26-year-old Carrickfergus driver after last weeks test day. "The car ran faultlessly and for me it's all about getting back into the groove again."