Colin Turkington: Every Chance I Have To Take


On the eve of a vital eighth meeting of the season at Rockingham this weekend, current Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship points leader Colin Turkington spoke to TCFs Dan Mason about his Knockhill charge, and how his 2009 title success bears similarities to his current championship charge…

The West Surrey Racing driver currently holds the best hand of championship cards in the race for the 2014 crown after seven of the 10 meetings run so far, leading Honda Yuasa Racing‘s Gordon Shedden by 23 points following arguably the most intense event of the season in Scotland two weekends ago.

The Fife meeting saw Turkington beached in the gravel in race one as he recovered from an eight-place grid penalty applied for a driving misdemeanor at Snetterton, in what has otherwise been a  fruitful year for the BMW driver in the second season of his comeback to the UK’s premier tin-top series after a brief, unplanned sabbatical to the World Touring Car Championship scene.

Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography
Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Turkington and WSR’s much-developed BMW 125i have gelled into a formidable opposition in 2014, the machinery itself participating in just its second season.

Seven wins have come to its name in the current campaign, six of which have come in Turkington’s hands alone, but the Knockhill non-finish switched into the former champion’s mindset for the remaining three meetings of the season as Turkington insisted he must take every chance he is presented with to collect points from this stage.

“I think it has to be maximum attack from this stage”, Turkington told The Checkered Flag on Friday at Rockingham.

“There’s still nine races left which is a fair way to go, so we need to keep pushing forward and try to collect as many points as possible this weekend.

“The only was to do that is to go as fast as I can. Every chance to take another point, I have to go for it.”

The infield circuit of Rockingham Motor Speedway has however not seen Turkington grace the top step of the podium in his five BTCC visits to the Corby venue, although two podium visits 12 months ago brought him peace of mind for the coming weekend.

With the BMW singing all the correct notes for the points leader compared to the machine’s maiden season, Turkington expects he can eradicate that winless statistic, adding: “It hasn’t been so bad here; it depends how you arrive to Rockingham though.

“A lot of times that I’ve come here I’ve been doing well in the championship picture during the Super 2000 days, so you arrive with plenty of ballast and that is what makes it difficult.

“Last year I was on the podium twice, so with the car we had last year that wasn’t a bad weekend at all while we had no experience here. So I’m hopeful that we’ll score well this weekend.”

Turkington says he’ll take his chances (Photo: btcc.net)

A championship challenge was almost mounted by Turkington as early as last season, who did not expect to be fighting for the title on that particular occasion, adding that it had initially taken time to adapt to the UK’s circuits once again following his expansion to the European scene with WSR as a customer BMW driver in the WTCC.

Turkington says that he feels more confident behind the wheel this year, commenting: “I’m definitely in the groove this year, and with the car now developed a lot from last year, obviously the two just go hand in hand.

“I worked really hard last year, was driving well and it was probably a bit more difficult last year because I hadn’t been to a lot of these tracks for a few years. Some tracks in particular can take you a little bit longer to get up to speed.”

An emotional 2009 title triumph was the highlight of the Northern Irishman’s career since his 2002 debut with MG, the Independent admitting that the moment was an ‘unforgettable’ one.

The scenario on that occasion, Turkington recalls, was one he related to as similar in how the current campaign has panned itself out – what with a strong first half to the season manufactured by dominant Outlon Park and Croft meetings where BMW have traditionally thrived at.

“You can take lessons from that. I’ve been trying to be consistent in the last few meetings”, Turkington added in relation to 2009, the vital word ‘consistency’ being one continuously repeated among the championship contenders at this stage.

“It’s quite a similar feel to [2009] in the way that the results had been through the year. With us being probably as consistent as in 2009 and winning at our strongest tracks it’s been something we’ve done again this year.”

Knockhill charge maintained 23-point cushion (Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography)
Knockhill charge maintained 23-point cushion (Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography)

The championship is very much an open playing field still, as the points leader himself thoroughly knows, pointing out that it is rare not to have Jason Plato at least presenting himself into the frame for a final round showdown.

One race however that Turkington will perhaps look back on as a crucial encounter came two weekends ago, in Knockhill’s second contest of a battle-hardened Sunday.  The #5 BMW started back in 27th after contact with Plato in race one left his 125i beached, but carved effortlessly through the field up to fourth place by the flag.

“I’d say it was probably one of the best”, said the man himself in terms of where his Knockhill charge ranks within his BTCC career.

“It was a big result – everything just came together really. The car was fast, I knew how much I needed to make ground up and I was pretty keen before that race to get as far up the field as possible.

“We were just in a good rhythm, and it all comes naturally from there.”

2014 has also been the turning point once again for BMW and WSR to take to the fore in the BTCC, and team boss Dick Bennetts feels that the performance of the squad has put them in a better position than ever before in the series.

The experienced New Zealander however also believes that the team now also face their biggest challenge yet, preserving a 58-point lead in the Teams’ Championship as well as Turkington’s 23-point Drivers’ Championship lead.

WSR lead by 58 points heading to Rockingham (Photo: Kingsley Newman/KAN Photography)
WSR lead by 58 points heading to Rockingham (Photo: Kingsley Newman/KAN Photography)

He said: “Victories at Rockingham have been a little bit hard to come by since then so you could say it’s our biggest challenge yet this season, but we’re in a better position than ever before. We’ve developed the BMWs hugely over the last 12 months, so much so that we’re confident in our abilities at almost every circuit, except maybe Silverstone, where top speed is important!

“It would be great to get a win this weekend but more importantly we need to preserve our advantage in the drivers’ and teams’ standings.”

Rounds 22, 23 and 24 of the season get underway this weekend at Rockingham, over 6/7 August.

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Drivers Championship after round 7/10:

1)

Colin Turkington (West Surrey Racing BMW)

309pts

2)

Gordon Shedden (Honda Yuasa Racing)

286pts

3)

Jason Plato (Triple Eight MG)

270pts

4)

Rob Collard (West Surrey Racing BMW)

220pts

5)

Andrew Jordan (Pirtek Racing Honda)

217pts

Teams Championship after round 7/10:

1)

West Surrey Racing

531pts

2)

Honda Yuasa Racing

473pts

3)

MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save

407pts

4)

Airwaves Racing

307pts

5)

BMR Chrome Edition Restart Racing

251pts