West Surrey Racing boss Dick Bennetts highlighted how strong BMW’s reliabilty was in 2017, a factor that has aided development ahead of the new Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season.
The multiple Independents’ title winners secured works backing from BMW last season and went on to win the Manufacturers’ crown, Colin Turkington narrowly missing out on a third title of his own in a final race showdown with Subaru’s Ashley Sutton.
Only once did unreliabilty rear its head for the team’s trio of BMW 125i M-Sport machines, Andrew Jordan the victim at Snetterton.
The team introduced a new bespoke engine for the 2017 season in line with the switch to factory support, one which team boss Bennetts said barely wilted during the season in terms of performance.
The New Zealander told TCF at the Autosport International Show that further improvments are now key to the team’s title push, saying“there’s always room for improvement. We’ve done some work under the bonnet; also suspension and geometry which we had a play with after the championship. It’s risky doing it at a race weekend when it takes more than 30 minutes.
“The straight line speed is better now and the characteristics of the engine also, but we only ran one engine all season. We decided to keep an eye on everything all year, yet didn’t pull it apart.
“We were 1bhp down [by the end of the season] after 4,500km.
“The higher revs were killing the engines. We were only worried about reliability, but that only let us down once at Snetterton. That wasn’t actually the engine – more a WSR part. We found the cause very quickly and it never happened again. It’s a bit more pressure with manufacturer support, but the way I work anyway is that I want to do well all of the time.”
WSR maintain its driver line-up of Turkington, Jordan and Rob Collard for 2018, continuity something that Bennetts feels will make the coming season an immediate improvment.
“They get to know how we work and they now know how we work, which makes the team gel better. Colin knows how we operate, Rob knows too and AJ on his second year will be good. It’s the first time I’ve had three drivers signed up so early. We tend to know their driving styles now, so it will speed everything up this year.”
Echoing the sentiments of Bennetts and 2013 champion, Jordan, double title winner Turkington also agreed that continuing his partnership with WSR was a no-brainer.
“It is clear to me that Team BMW is my Motorsport home and a place where I perform at my best”, said Turkington. “West Surrey Racing have been in the Championship since 1996 and continue to set the benchmark.
“We head into 2018 with the experience of 2017 under our belt and I believe this will add to the potential of what we can achieve together. We had a lot to learn last year with the new Dunlop tyres and on many occasions, I knew there was still so much more to come. We can now build on this and aim to hit the ground running with an accurate and detailed pre-season test plan. We were able to begin testing in November and will restart the track work in February.”
“Consistency within a team is important and along with the engineering department, it will be great to have both Andy and Rob back again for another season.”