Belfast Telegraph

Turkington wary despite leading chase for title

 

Table topper: Colin Turkington leads BTCC series by 36 points
Table topper: Colin Turkington leads BTCC series by 36 points

By Sammy Hamill

Colin Turkington has a 36-point lead at the top of the British Touring Car Championship heading into this weekend's three-race round at Thruxton - but he is far from complacent.

"We've completed six of 10 race weekends so there's still a huge amount of racing left and there's a lot of competition from any number of drivers, not just the guys directly behind me," he warns.

Three-time champion Turkington picked up the 51st win of his BTCC career at Snetterton a fortnight ago, a weekend which he says went to plan.

"It was great to win again, and win with a heavy car heading into the weekend as championship leader with the maximum success ballast on board. But we were also consistent over every session and we're hoping for more of the same at Thruxton.

"The BMW 330i M Sport was quick when we raced there earlier this season and, looking back, we'd come out of the blocks fast. Now, as the season's played out, people have closed that gap and it'll be even more difficult, for sure, this time around."

In fact it was Turkington's West Surrey Racing BMW team-mate Andrew Jordan who dominated at Thruxton back in May, winning twice, and now he sits second in the standings despite a disastrous Donington weekend when he crashed heavily and failed to score a point.

Like Turkington, Jordan, a former champion, has won five times this season and is emerging as a major threat to the Portadown driver's bid for a record-equalling fourth title.

But the ultra-quick Thruxton circuit - the fastest on the BTCC calendar - has often favoured the front-wheel-drive Honda Civics and there is a whole pack of them snapping at the heels of the BMWs which will be carrying the heaviest ballast for qualifying and race one again this weekend.

The chasing Honda men include Rory Butcher, third in the table, and Josh Cook, fourth, as well as Turkington's fellow Ulsterman Chris Smiley who has been in the wars several times this season but was back on the podium after a gutsy drive in race three at Snetterton.

The Thruxton programme includes the Porsche Carrera Cup GB series and the UK Renault Clio Cup, both of which feature rising Ulster stars Daniel Harper and Jack Young.

Harper, still only 18, leads the Carrera Championship and Young, just 17, would be top of the Clio Cup but for the intervention of stewards who took away his two first place finishes at Snetterton for alleged over aggressive driving.

Young took the decisions on the chin but has vowed to come back fighting this weekend.

"We can't influence the decisions of officials, nor change them, so I'm staying focused on what I feel I did well at Snetterton," he said. "At the end of the day, we are all racers and we all want to win no matter what it takes!

"I will come back even more determined at Thruxton."

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