Team BMW head to Rockingham this weekend aiming to maintain their advantage at the top of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
Heading the Drivers’, Teams’ and Manufacturers’ points tables, the WSR-run team returns to the Northamptonshire circuit, which is unique in the BTCC as being part-oval and part-road course in its 1.9-mile layout.
Drivers’ Championship leader Colin Turkington has taken three wins and 10 podium finishes this year and was a double-winner at Rockingham in 2014 in his BMW 125i M Sport on his way to the crown.
The Northern Irishman’s position at the head of the title battle, however, means he has to carry the maximum 75kg success ballast into the weekend, creating an extra challenge for practice, qualifying and Race One.
Team-mate Rob Collard lies fourth in the points table with one win and seven podiums to his name. The Hampshire racer is the only driver to have scored points in every one of the 21 races held in 2017 and is aiming for another big score this weekend.
Rob, who carries 48kg ballast, has taken three BTCC podiums at Rockingham, including a third place in Race Two last year from 14th on the grid.
WSR, who claimed their 250th BTCC podium at Knockhill last time out, are five-time winners in the series at Rockingham.
The Rockingham triple-header on August 26-27 is the eighth 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: “Knockhill was a very challenging weekend with the weather and with just how close the competition was, so it was very good to score three podiums to climb to the top of the championship. Of course, that means I come to Rockingham with the heaviest car ballast-wise, and this presents its own challenges. But the BMW is one of the best-handling cars in the BTCC and this should give me a very good chance of scoring big points and maintaining the championship lead.”
Rob Collard said: “As a circuit, Rockingham is technically very demanding. The section of oval we use is very wide and provides great overtaking opportunities while there are plenty of tight areas that should allow the BMW to play to its strengths. I’m fourth in the championship and still right in the thick of the title battle and year-on-year my results with the 125i M Sport have been improving here. Last year I finished third from 14th on the grid, so I’m confident of showing strong pace again and scoring more good results.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “We’re leading all three championships, which is a credit to the hard work from everybody at WSR and our engine tuner NBE this year. Historically we’ve had mixed results at Rockingham, but we’ve won there three times in the last three years, so there’s a clear trend that we’re getting towards the BMW’s sweet spot at what’s a very tough circuit to judge the set-up for. The plan is to have Colin and Rob in the hunt for more victories this weekend and to stay on top for the trip to Silverstone.”