Reigning Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Champion Colin Turkington aims to pick up consistent points after qualifying inside the top five for tomorrow’s opening race from Croft.
Turkington finished best of the BMR Racing Volkswagens in fifth spot, 0.650s off the pace of pole-sitter Sam Tordoff, the latter driving a West Surrey Racing BMW 125i which the former himself claimed pole position with in the previous two seasons.
Speaking to The Checkered Flag after qualifying, Turkington said: “The car was strong so we’re well positioned for tomorrow.
“We maximised the performance of the car and improved the car through the day. We saved the rubber for qualifying. It was a risky strategy because you put your tyres on for the first time in qualifying and you don’t quite know the balance.
“I really need to start clawing some points back. I need a strong score over the three races tomorrow.”
Turkington’s performance put him second fastest of the front-wheel drive competitors (Gordon Shedden qualifying third overall) on a day that saw BMW’s 125i set the pace, but the Volkswagen CC driver admits that tyre management will be crucial to getting the best result.
He added: “I’m right on Rob [Collard]’s heels but the other two guys are a bit further up the road; it’s sector three where they’re really strong – from Sunny In and onwards.
“They are going to be very hard to beat but it’s swings about. The BMW’s are strong here but we’ll be strong at other tracks.
“It’s all about tyre management as it’s such an abrasive track. If you go too fast too soon then you really suffer at the end of the race. Potentially the car is very fast over the first few laps but it’s up to you on whether you want to suffer with tyre degradation at the end.”
Turkington’s success at the North Yorkshire circuit in his most recent seasons has been a major talking point in the build-up to the meeting, the reigning champion having taken double victories in his previous four visits to the track among his 10 wins.
“I have certain strengths around here that earn me some time in qualifying. We got the car in the sweet spot. I’ve struggled a bit in the past two meetings to get the balance where I want it but today we got it there. I felt confident to get it to the limit.”
The threat of rain remains a significant one for Sunday afternoon’s trio of races at Croft, something which Turkington says may provide a window of opportunity to get the better of his BMW rivals.
He said: “It could provide an opportunity. If the car’s in balance and working well, it will generally work in both the wet and dry. I think the BMW’s will still be strong there in the wet as I was strong here in the wet driving the same car.
“It depends how wet it gets. If it gets really then the advantage swings back to the FWD’s.”
Since making his debut test outing in the Volkswagen CC at the same circuit during a pre-season visit, Turkington commented on the improvements made by the squad since then as the season reaches its halfway stage.
“We’ve improved the car quite a bit. We had fundamental problems with the car during those early tests, simple things we needed to iron out. We’ve got stability and predictability now and generally the car is getting faster. It’s always difficult when you’re testing and it’s five degrees, everything you learn you take with a pinch of salt.”