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Turkington's sights on Diamond haul


By Sammy Hamill

Colin Turkington has had to sit on his British Touring Car Championship lead for five weeks and although he hasn't been idle during the mid-season break, his attention has been primarily focused on a return to action at Snetterton this weekend.

The east Anglian circuit hosts the 60th anniversary of the premier British motorsport series, an occasion marked by a special 'Double Diamond' race which could have a crucial impact on the outcome of the Championship. It will be double the length of a normal BTCC race and carry double points.

Turkington ended the first half of the season leading the series by 19 points in his West Surrey Racing BMW and although it is officially the Championship holiday, he has been active with guest appearances at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Mini Festival at Oulton Park.

More importantly he spent two days testing at Snetterton in preparation for this weekend's Diamond Jubilee meeting.

"There's a huge buzz about the 60th anniversary celebrations and the Double Diamond race has been a hot topic throughout the summer," said the two-time champion from Portadown.

"Going double the distance, 60 miles, in the third race of the day will be new territory for both the driver and car, but I'm going to embrace the challenge. I've done everything possible to prepare for it and feel fitter than ever.

"We have to do 20 laps on the standard tyre, so we'll need to be clever to manage that correctly but the reward of double points could be significant come the end of the season."

The first two races will run to the usual pattern with Turkington's BMW loaded down with the maximum success ballast of 75kg for the first of them. But there will be separate qualifying for the Double Diamond race with all cars starting ballast free.

Turkington is joined in the Snetterton line-up by fellow Ulsterman Chris Smiley in one of the Northern Ireland-owned BTC Norlin team's two Honda Civics. The young Carrickfergus driver is 14th in the series having secured his first podium finish at Donington Park earlier in the season.

In action, too, will be 17-year-old Daniel Harper, who became the youngest winner in the history of the Porsche Carrera Cup with his victory at Oulton Park just before the summer break.

Locally, the 500 Club have a packed meeting scheduled for their Kirkistown circuit tomorrow which will again feature two rounds of the Dawson-WAM Northern Ireland Formula Ford Championship in which teenage English driver Matt Round-Garrido is the current leader.

Meanwhile, Citroen made an encouraging start to Rally Finland with Mads Ostberg and Craig Breen setting the top two fastest times in yesterday's shakedown test.

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