Team BMW aim to maintain their lead of the 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship as the series moves on to the UK’s fastest circuit, Thruxton, this weekend.
With average lap speeds of over 110mph and dauntingly quick corners like Noble, Goodwood and Church, Thruxton possesses a challenge like no other on the BTCC calendar for drivers and teams alike.
Those drivers; Colin Turkington and Rob Collard, have helped launch WSR-run Team BMW into the lead of the Teams’ Championship and BMW to the head of the Manufacturers’ points race. Both are aiming for more of the same this weekend at the Hampshire speedbowl.
Northern Irishman Colin claimed his first win since returning to WSR last time out at Donington Park and lies second in the points as he aims to add to the titles he claimed with the Sunbury-on-Thames-based team in 2009 and ’14.
Colin’s 11.591-second victory with WSR in 2006 – one of three he has recorded at Thruxton with the team – is the largest BTCC winning margin of the past 20 years and the Portadown driver is aiming for a similarly strong result this weekend, despite carrying 57kg of success ballast.
Team-mate Rob has equally happy memories of his local circuit. The Eversley-based racer has finished on the podium four times there in his career and took the BTCC points lead with a second-placed finish in 2016.
Having completed the London Marathon recently in a little over four hours, Rob is aiming for an equally impressive race performance this weekend; one that could notch up the 150th podium finish for the WSR-designed-and-built BMW 125i M Sport and the 100th win for the Munich marque in the BTCC.
Rob lies fifth in the championship and carries 39kg of success ballast in his car as a result.
The Thruxton triple-header on May 6-7 is the third of 10 events in this year’s BTCC, which takes in nine circuits the length and breadth of the country. Each race will be screened live and exclusively on ITV4 in HD.
Colin Turkington said: “Thruxton’s the fastest circuit in the UK and always provides excellent racing. The high-speed, bumpy nature of the track makes it a unique challenge, but one I thoroughly enjoy. I have a pretty good record there, including three wins, and I think we’ll be fast again this time. We had a productive test at Thruxton recently and that has given us good direction for this weekend. Getting the suspension and tyre set-up right is crucial, as you need to be fast at the end of the race. With 57kg of ballast on board, qualifying and the first race will be a challenge, but the BMW is strong over a race distance, so I’m sure we can get some big points and more trophies.”
Rob Collard said: “I love racing at Thruxton. It’s my home circuit, so I do get lots of family and friends coming along, and the support from the local crowd is always fantastic. The season has started strongly with podiums at each of the first two rounds; including at Donington, where we perhaps did a little better than expected. We tested the new Dunlop ‘Thruxton’ tyres here a few weeks ago and were pleased with the progress we made, so I think we can be optimistic of another strong weekend. Everyone’s seen how strong the BMW is in races, even with some success weight, so let’s see what we can do.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “Team BMW have had a very good start to the season with a win and four podiums and this is exactly the kind of form we’re hoping to repeat at Thruxton. Much like Donington, Thruxton generally suits front-wheel-drive cars best in a one-lap situation, but our rear-wheel-drive BMWs are gentle on tyres so we should have a strong package in race conditions. The BTCC use a special tyre for Thruxton, designed to cope with the unique challenges of the high-speed right-handers and for this year it’s a new specification, with which we had a positive test here a few weeks ago.”