After battling for the title in Subaru’s maiden Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship assault, Colin Turkington praised a ‘remarkable’ turnaround by Silverline Subaru Team BMR in 2016.
The 34-year-old moved to within 10 points of the championship lead with one race to go at Brands Hatch GP circuit, but ended the season fourth overall and 19 points adrift of Gordon Shedden despite adding his fourth and fifth wins of the campaign in Kent.
Five victories put him level with Mat Jackson on the most for 2016, Turkington at one stage 91 points adrift of the championship lead as Subaru made their debut attack on the BTCC with a rear-wheel drive Levorg GT.
“It’s been an incredible turnaround”, said Turkington of his fine season with Subaru. “To leave Thruxton with 10 points in the bag and feeling miserable, this seemed a long way away.
“To get within 10 points coming into the final race was an incredible effort. Naturally, I’m disappointed because whenever you get close, you start to believe.
“Still, even with the wins there it was a big ask because the weight stays on the car and in the pack it’s more difficult to carry it. [Next week] I’ll be pleased with this year’s achievement, so no reason to feel disappointed.”
What made the Northern Irishman’s recovery poignant were the baby steps taken initially by Team BMR, gaining knowledge of the Subaru Levorg’s true performance following a late start in first practice at the Brands Hatch opener.
Only collecting a combined 13 points from the opening nine races, component maladies resulted in the team withdrawing from the third meeting of the season at Thruxton. Homework completed, the following meetings at Oulton Park and Croft saw two pole positions, two wins and six podiums for Turkington alone, team-mate Jason Plato adding five consecutive rostrum visits also in that period.
On the story of Subaru’s first steps in BTCC, Turkington told TCF: “That’s what you’ve got to remember; where we started. I’d never driven the car before first practice [at Brands Hatch], so to get so close is crazy.
“I had five wins through the season so I can be pleased, as well as three poles, so there’s a lot of highlights.
“We’ve made such gains and nobody would have expected us to get this close after the early stages of the season. We know where we can improve the package for next season. That was our first stab at it – and a pretty good stab!”
Despite missing out on a third title, Turkington admitted he was proud of his and Subaru’s achievements in the manufacturer’s maiden season.
“No season is easy”, he added. “You need consistency, which we had from Oulton Park onwards, so to make those big steps so quickly is a big plus. I was so proud to achieve with what we did.
“What we’ve done is built a great foundation for next year. We know the car now for winter testing and can come back with a better package. In year two, you know what to do and as a driver you can be faster at every track.”
Attention shifts rapidly to 2017, the experienced double champion saying that a year’s worth of miles under his belt in the Levorg will make the BMR squad a force next year if development continues to be positive.
“I know what I want to do”, said Turkington on 2017 plans. “We’re all singing off the same hymn sheet. It takes time to develop a package, and I’m somebody that likes to put together a foundation and build a package around me to deliver the ultimate results.
“I’ve already enjoyed my time here at BMR and I’m still grateful for the opportunity. I’ll keep working hard through the winter and come back strong.”
STAT ATTACK: Subaru In BTCC 2016:
|Drivers' Championship||4th (Turkington)|