Belfast Telegraph

Turkington thrilled to stay put in bid for fourth title

 

By Sammy Hamill

Who would change an ultra-successful partnership? Not Colin Turkington.

The reigning British Touring Car champion has announced that he will stay with Team BMW and West Surrey Racing as he bids for a record-equalling fourth title in 2019.

All three of Turkington's successful Championship seasons have come in BMWs run by Dick Bennetts' WSR team and naturally he is happy for the partnership to continue.

"Team BMW and West Surrey Racing is the place to be and we want to continue to make history together," said the Portadown driver as he prepares for his 15th season in Britain's premier racing series.

"This is where I'm happiest; with people I trust. When I'm happy, I perform."

Turkington took the 2018 title in a tense finish on the final day of the season having scored 10 podiums - more than any other driver - and finishing inside the top five on 15 occasions.

He made his BTCC debut with West Surrey Racing in 2002 and has spent most of his career with the Sunbury-on-Thames team, first winning the drivers' title in 2009 and again in 2014.

In total he has 46 race wins to his credit, placing him fifth on the series' all-time winners' list, as well as recording 133 podium finishes, 17 pole positions and 52 fastest laps.

Now the aim is to emulate the only four-time champion Andy Rouse, who raced back in the Eighties.

"Becoming a triple BTCC champion felt great, but I'm hungry for much more and racing with Team BMW gives me this opportunity," he said.

"I'm thrilled by the commitment from BMW that allows me to stay in one of the most desired seats in global touring cars and with a team who continue to set the benchmark."

Turkington's 30-race campaign will begin at Brands Hatch on April 7.

Meanwhile, Andrew Watson is heading back to Australia and back to the track he calls "the best in the world".

The 23-year-old from Donaghmore, Co Tyrone has been drafted into the Objective Racing squad for the 12-hour Bathurst race at Mount Panorama where he will share a GT3 McLaren 650S with Tony Walls and Warren Luff.

Team boss Walls said: "Andrew has run here before and did a good job, last year in particular, and he's driven the McLaren all year in Blancpain with Garage 59 so he knows the car well."

The race takes place on February 3.

Already on his travels is Charlie Eastwood, whose 2019 season begins with the Dubai 24-hour race this weekend.

A former Porsche Carrera Cup champion who has been driving Aston Martins in the World Endurance series, he is teaming up with the Moutrand brothers - Ramzi, Nabil and Sami - in a Porsche 911.

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