Colin Turkington and Rob Collard gave Team BMW their best Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship qualifying result of the year in a frenetic session at Oulton Park on Saturday.
Colin’s fourth place and Rob’s ninth spot were their personal bests for the 2017 season and ensure the Teams’ and Manufacturers’ Championship leaders have an excellent chance to add to the three wins they’ve already scored this year.
After suffering a misfire during a dry opening practice session and encountering heavy rain during the afternoon running, Colin lay 21st on the grid when the session was halted with just five minutes remaining due to an accident.
The Northern Irishman, weighed down by 57kg of success ballast, dug deep to produced three personal best laps in succession and snatch a second-row spot in his WSR-run BMW 125i M Sport.
Team-mate Rob, fresh from his first win of 2017 at Thruxton last time out, was carrying 48kg ballast, but also exceeded his own expectations by qualifying ninth; his first top-10 starting position of the year.
All three of Saturday’s races will be broadcast live on ITV4 with Race One due to start at 1217.
Colin Turkington said: “I’m incredibly relieved. When the red flags came out with five minutes left, I feared the worst as I was outside the top 20, but the tyres came up to temperature nice and quickly, I was able to find myself a decent tow, and everything just came together. It was a bit nervy for a moment, but from the second row, I’ll be aiming to win, if I can, and take home a big stack of points at a circuit at which the BMW has traditionally been strong.”
Rob Collard said: “That’s easily my best qualifying performance of the year. Oulton Park is a track where I expected the BMW to be strong, but even so, this puts us in a pretty strong position going into tomorrow. Last year I overtook more than 40 cars on raceday, so it’s clear that we’ve uncovered the knack of how to pass people here. It’s incredibly tight in the midfield, so it will be important not to get hit on the first lap – as happened last year – but the race pace of the BMW has been strong all year so I’m confident I can move forwards.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “It’s very pleasing to see both Team BMW cars inside the top 10 for the first time this season. Colin’s misfire in free practice put us on the back foot and when the red flags came out, things didn’t look particularly good, but the strategy we employed in the final five minutes worked and Colin produced an excellent lap, especially considering he’s carrying 57kg ballast. Rob’s also had a very good session and qualified higher than he’s managed all season. If he can keep his nose clean in Race One, he can be a contender on Sunday.”