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'Now is my time to shine': Colin Turkington reflects on drive for record-breaking fifth British Championship title

 

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Colin Turkington is hoping he has plenty more success still to celebrate with family.

Colin Turkington is hoping he has plenty more success still to celebrate with family.

Colin Turkington in action in his BMW.

Colin Turkington in action in his BMW.

Getty Images

Colin and wife Louise

Colin and wife Louise

Colin Turkington is hoping he has plenty more success still to celebrate with family.

Colin Turkington, one of Northern Ireland's most decorated and celebrated drivers, should have been taking his place on the grid this weekend for rounds 13, 14 and 15 of the British Touring Car Championship.

That was before Covid-19 reared its head, forcing the nation's people into a nine-week lockdown and leading to the postponement of the popular tin-top series, which is scheduled to start in late summer.

With help from Motorsport UK - British car racing's governing body - BTCC promoters have drawn up a compressed calendar that spans four months and includes four races over five weekends in August.

When the Championship's proverbial wheels finally turn at Donington Park, the only people keeping the drivers company as they rub paint on track will be team strategists shouting over the in-car radio.

"Our series is quite unique in that so many fans come to watch," Turkington explains.

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Colin Turkington in action in his BMW.

Colin Turkington in action in his BMW.

Getty Images

Colin Turkington in action in his BMW.

 

"We can get 30,000 to 40,000 over a race weekend, so at the start it is going to be strange. The atmosphere will be very flat. Drivers will have fewer commitments over the two days, meaning they can focus more on the job in hand, but you won't get the same buzz standing up on the podium. There isn't going to be the same number of people there to celebrate with you, so I'm looking forward to when fans are allowed back."

The 38-year-old married father-of-two has used the downtime to recharge his batteries for a crack at a record-breaking fifth driver's title, a feat that would see the Portadown man surpass Andy Rouse to become the most successful in BTCC history.

He's also allowed himself to revisit the highs experienced with the team and company that gave him the best tools for his day job, West Surrey Racing and BMW.

"I've had the chance to reflect, absolutely, and it has been nice to have been able to do that. I'm not one for normally looking back on past achievements - it is only because the time is there," he says.

"However, I'm very focused on this year because I'm aware that I'm driving for one of the best teams with one of the best cars on the grid, so now is my time to shine. It's not every season you are in this position and I suppose that does bring with it a weight of expectation, but the pressure is a privilege.

"When you do come out on top it makes the feeling even more special. I think that's why last year, after I won a fourth title, I had a huge release of emotion because of everything I had invested in it."

Being at home with wife Louise and their sons Lewis and Adam has afforded Turkington the chance to enjoy many of the daily activities society takes for granted.

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Colin and wife Louise

Colin and wife Louise

Colin and wife Louise

 

"We have been really happy in lockdown to be honest," he says. "This is my 15th year in touring cars and a life in motorsport is quite energy-sapping.

"One year seems to merge into the next; a season finishes and you are on the grid for the next one in what seems like no time at all. It's been really good to catch my breath because when you win you work even harder because you've so many functions, events and prize-givings to attend.

"With the two boys not being at school, they are a much bigger part of daily life. We've been schooling them on many fronts, from maths and English to aspects about life in general. Because the roads have been so quiet, we have done quite a bit of cycling and it's been nice to get out most days in the sun.

"I've been doing cooking and baking as well - it has been great to have had the opportunity to do it."

A born winner, plotting success is never something that leaves Turkington's psyche for too long. Yoga and meditation are just two new skills he has acquired during lockdown and he believes both can play their part when he puts on the helmet, tightens his harness and fires up his BMW 330i M Sport in two months' time.

"I would never have done either before," admits Turkington, who relocated to Thornton in Buckinghamshire last year to be closer to the BTCC scene.

"I see them as skills that will not only help my wellbeing going forward but my career as well. This year is going to be one of the toughest yet."

Belfast Telegraph