Belfast Telegraph

Turkington treads lightly as title joy edges nearer

By Sammy Hamill

Colin Turkington refuses to get ahead of himself. He could leave Silverstone on Sunday as British Touring Car champion for a second time, but dismisses the notion.

"I'm not even considering that I could win it this weekend. I've been about long enough to know how quickly things can turn," says the 2009 champion, who has a 55-point lead with just six of 30 races remaining in Britain's most high-profile motor racing championship.

He fully expects the fight to go down to the series finale at Brands Hatch on October 12.

"The BTCC is one of the most closely fought championships there is and I can't remember the last time it didn't go to round 30 out of 30 and that's what I'm expecting," added the Portadown driver, who took a three-year break after becoming the first – and only – Irish driver to win the series.

He returned last year, finishing fourth as the West Surrey Racing team developed their new generation BMW 125i M Sport, but this season he has surged to the top of the points table ahead of former champions Jason Plato (MG) and Gordon Sheddon (Honda).

But Turkington, with eight wins under his belt so far, would have to outscore his nearest challengers by 12 points at Silverstone to put them out of contention before the final three races.

"For me to outscore Jason in particular by 12 points will be a big ask and I can't see it happening," he said.

"He is always strong at Silverstone; in fact, he won twice there last year and twice the year before as well.

"My target will be to score well in all three races; to be competitive, to stay as close to my direct competition as I can and do everything I can to stay out of trouble. If I can do that the points will take care of themselves."

Plato, a two-time champion, thinks his title chances have already gone.

Unhappy with what he sees as an unfair advantage enjoyed by Turkington's rear-wheel-drive eBay Motors BMW, he said: "You may as well give Colin the championship now.

"We can't fight him the way it currently stands.

"I'm the only driver to have genuinely beaten him since Thruxton (in May).

"He has won every race one and race two apart from when I beat him at Snetterton (in early August) and then when he had his grid penalty at Knockhill.

"We may be quicker this weekend but I still see him ahead of the others.

"I'm not taking anything away from Colin as a driver or WSR as a team but there are two championships here; there's a championship for one car and a championship for the rest."

But what Plato seems to have overlooked is the fact that, besides Turkington's eight victories, only one other race has been won by a driver in a rear-wheel-drive car.

It can't just all be down to the car.

And the Ulsterman really isn't fooled by Plato's apparent pessimism.

The most successful driver in the history of the series, he is a ferocious competitor with nearly 90 wins to his credit.

"Jason won't give up the chase for the title easily but I'm more than prepared and happy for it to go to Brands Hatch," said Turkington.

The Silverstone races are live on ITV4 on Sunday with coverage beginning at 11.30am.

Belfast Telegraph

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