The WSR-run BMW 125i M Sport recorded a landmark 100th Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship podium finish at Brands Hatch today – a magnificent achievement by the reigning Teams’ and Manufacturers’ Champions.
Colin Turkington’s second-place finish in Race One, and his fastest-lap drive from 27th to ninth in Race Three, were his highlights of an encouraging opening race weekend, while his Team BMW team-mate Rob Collard did not secure the results his typically gritty performance deserved.
The results mean BMW lead the BTCC Manufacturers’ standings as they aim for another title.
Colin made a great start from third on the grid in Race One; the 36-year old from Portadown, Northern Ireland, moving immediately into second place.
He kept the pressure on Jack Goff in hope of causing the leader to make a mistake and opening up an opportunity, but that never materialised and he finished half a second behind.
Unfortunately, Colin wasn’t able to start from the front row of the grid for Race 2, as he headed to the pits at the end of the formation lap with his car in safety ‘limp’ mode.
The issue was quickly rectified, allowing him to join a lap down and finish 27th.
Obliged to start the dry third race from the 14th row, he set the fastest lap of the race to finish an impressive ninth.
Rob started the first race from 19th and, having sustained rear-suspension damage in two separate collisions, put in a typically gritty performance to finish a point-scoring 15th.
He changed to wet tyres on the Race-Two grid, and while racing for 12th was squeezed between two cars and into a spin, from which he re-joined to finish 26th.
Starting the third and final race from 26th, the driver from Eversley, Hampshire, gained six places in a lap, but a car spun into him as they entered the Druids hairpin together, knocking an innocent Collard into the gravel.
The next event takes place at Donington Park, East Midlands, on 28-29 April.
Colin Turkington said: “It’s been a normal BTCC weekend, with lots of highs and lows. We scored well twice, with good results in Races One and Three, but Race Two was, of course, disappointing. Those type of unforeseen gremlins creep into everyone’s campaign at some stage through the season. Ideally, you don’t want it to happen at the first round, but it has and we just have to put it behind us and move on. I’m particularly pleased to come from 27th to ninth in the final race. To be able to pass so many cars on the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit, and to set fastest lap on the prime tyre, shows that there is good pace in the car. It’s been a very encouraging weekend. We’ve been fast in all conditions and I feel more confidence in the car than I did in pre-season testing, when it was cooler and when we were on green circuits. Now we’ve got more ambient temperature and the car is responding very well, so I feel good confidence with the car going forward. As a driver, all you want is a race car that you can attack with, and that’s what we have.”
Rob Collard said: “We came to Brands Hatch with a lot of hope. We were second here last year and we’ve won here twice before on the opening weekend, so to come away with only one point is very disappointing. Our third race sums up our weekend. I made a good start and going up into Druids a car spun into me – I was on the outside and he hit me and pushed me straight off into the gravel. It was a frustrating way to end a frustrating weekend. We have to go away and regroup.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “We’ve shown this weekend what a good package we have with Team BMW. Colin has been quick in all conditions and did a storming job in Race Three, coming from 27th to ninth, and setting fastest lap on the control tyre. It was just a pity we had a problem on the formation lap in Race Two, but these little unforeseen problems happen sometimes. You have to feel for Rob, because when things don’t go your way in the BTCC, they really don’t go your way. We know him well, he’s a fighter with a huge amount of experience and he’ll come back, that’s for sure. It’s a long race series. Three down and 27 to go!”