Colin Turkington outqualified his Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship rivals in a closely-fought session at Silverstone on Saturday.
The Team BMW driver who lies second in the Drivers’ Championship, entered the session carrying 66kg success ballast, making his WSR-run BMW125i M Sport one of the heaviest cars in the field.
The Northern Irishman qualified eighth, working with team-mate Rob Collard on slipstreaming tactics during the session to maximise top speeds on the 1.6-mile Silverstone National Circuit, which is dominated by long straights.
Rob, from Hampshire, who carries 48kg success ballast due to his fourth place in the points table, showed impressive speed in practice to end the two sessions fourth and seventh, and entered qualifying in a confident mood.
The Saturday afternoon session was the closest in the BTCC’s 59-year history with the entire 32-car grid separated by 0.886 seconds.
Unfortunately, with a crowded circuit at the end of the 30-minute session making it tough to execute team tactics, Rob was restricted to 22nd on the grid – less than two tenths of a second away from the top 10.
Team BMW lead the Teams’ Championship with six races to go while BMW head the Manufacturers’ points table.
Colin Turkington said: “I don’t think I’ll ever be happy with eighth, but given the circumstances, I’m content. I’m carrying 66kg success ballast so I knew it was going to be a challenge today, but I’m ahead of all the other title contenders, so that’s a positive. All I can do is focus on attacking every single lap as hard as I can and extract the maximum from the BMW, which I think I did today. We’ll review the performance tonight, re-set ourselves and get ready for what I’m sure will be three incredibly tight races tomorrow.”
Rob Collard said: “My car has had great pace today, as shown by going fourth and seventh in the two free practice sessions. We’d done some slipstreaming as a team in practice, but it didn’t work as well as it could have for me in in qualifying and I’ll start 22nd. We’ve had some disappointing qualifying performances this year and still made it to the podium on raceday, so I’m certainly not giving up.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “It’s pleasing to see Colin on the fourth row – and ahead of his main title rivals – with one of the heaviest cars in the BTCC because Silverstone has never been a track that’s given us good results in qualifying. We used slipstreaming during the session, which certainly helped Colin in doing this, but we weren’t able to repeat that achievement with Rob. We’ve been on the podium 14 times in 12 years here so we’d expect both drivers to go forwards tomorrow.”