Colin Turkington said that Team BMW made further steps in qualifying for the opening Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race of the season, but that beating front-wheel drive rivals was an ‘impossible’ task in changeable conditions.
The Northern Irishman was in the hunt for pole position for much of the 30-minute qualifying session at Brands Hatch’s Indy circuit, but slipped to fifth place on the grid amid two downpours as Jeff Smith grabbed pole position.
Turkington and team-mate Andrew Jordan both sampled the latest BMW-developed engine for the first time on Saturday, the former singing praise despite airing caution at such an early stage in development.
On his initial tests with the latest BMW engine, Turkington told The Checkered Flag “it is the first time [running with the B48 engine] and it’s definitely a step forward.
“Alongside that however, you’ve got to do a bit more work to the chassis. We’re still tuning the car.
“It’s still step-by-step. We’re still learning and reliability is the first and foremost important thing; after that, I think tuning the chassis won’t take long.”
Returning to the West Surrey Racing squad that took him to his brace of BTCC titles, Turkington said that the treacherous conditions more than suited his FWD competitors.
Asked whether rain meant it was a potential pole position that got away from BMW, Turkington said “no, not at all. We didn’t really get to show the true pace of the car or even understand where we are ourselves.
“In these cooler conditions the FWD cars are going to be impossible to beat over one lap. There’s still a lot of unknowns, but we’ve been running P6 and P7 all day so that could be representative of where we are at this moment.
“I was first down the pit lane and first out on track, so you can’t read much into times. As we were going quicker it kept starting to drizzle and there were very few people that could go as fast as they should have.”
Turkington starts highest of the BMW trio in fifth, Andrew Jordan starting 11th while a late off limited Rob Collard‘s charge to 15th.