The 2009 BTCC Champion, Colin Turkington, has openly admitted that he is unlikely to be on the grid when the lights go out for the first race of the 2010 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton in 2 weeks time, on the 4th April at Thruxton.
Turkington, who took his first BTCC crown in a nail biting season finale around the Brands Hatch GP track last October has been hunting around for backers to fund his title defence after RAC, who had been backing Turkington's old team, West Surrey Racing, announced they would be scaling back their involvement.
“We have contacted close to 80 companies since Christmas, but haven't been able to secure anything like the funding required for this season despite the high profile of the BTCC and the 100-plus hours of television coverage the series receives,” said the 28 year old from Portadown, before adding: “It is a huge disappointment, but I suppose it is just a reflection of the difficult times all businesses are experiencing.”
Since RAC announced that they were to reduce their backing to the team run by Dick Bennetts, both Turkington and Bennetts have been working hard to secure a new title sponsor, but to no avail.
“Motor racing at this level is a business, an expensive business, and while Dick has made it clear he wants me back in the team it has to be paid for and we haven't been able to come up with the money,” explains Turkington, who then went on to add: “It is as simple as that. It means I won't be defending my title when the season starts at Thruxton over Easter weekend. I'm devastated to be honest â€” it will be the first time since 2003 I haven't been racing in the BTCC, but never say never.
“I'm still trying my best to find the funding and West Surrey have a car there for me if something can be sorted out for later in the season, but even if that happens I wouldn't be in a position to fight for the championship. After the highs of winning last season it is hard to get your head round the fact it is all over â€” for now at least.”
WSR will be present on the grid this coming season, with one of Turkington's former team mates, Rob Collard rejoining the team from Motorbase Performance and Andy Neate joining the team after 18 months away recovering from his horrific Britcar accident at Silverstone.
Turkington had been linked with a WTCC graduation, with established BMW Independent teams Proteam Motorsport and Wiechers-Sport as well as former BTCC outfit bamboo engineering.
The 2010 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship gets underway at Thruxton, Hampshire on the 3rd and 4th April.