Team BMW kick off the defence of their Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship Teams’ and Manufacturers’ titles at the iconic Brands Hatch Circuit in Kent this weekend.
Drivers Colin Turkington and Rob Collard scored five wins and 20 podiums between them in 2017 on their way to second and fifth places in the Drivers’ Championship and both aim to claim the crown this year as the WSR-run team target a title treble.
The 1.2-mile Brands Hatch Indy Circuit has traditionally been a happy hunting ground for the Sunbury-on-Thames-based team, who are set to begin their 23rd season of BTCC competition.
Playing to the strengths of the BMW 125i M Sport, the former British Grand Prix venue has been the scene of 12 wins and 35 podium finishes for WSR-run cars, including a one-two finish last year.
Colin, from Portadown, Northern Ireland, has won five times at the track – including his maiden BTCC victory in 2003 – and finished on the podium 19 times, making him a clear contender for success this weekend.
Team-mate Rob, from Eversley, Hampshire, has an equally strong record. He was victorious at the opening round of the BTCC season in 2009, 2012 and 2015 in BMWs and has scored seven podiums – including a charging drive to second place last year.
The Brands Hatch triple-header on April 7-8 is the first of 10 events in the BTCC’s 60th anniversary season, 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: “The new season is upon us and starts at Brands Hatch; the same venue at which we clinched the Teams’ and Manufacturers’ titles last year. I started 2017 with a podium finish on the Indy Circuit on my return to the team after a couple of years away and based on our recent tests I’m confident once again in the machinery underneath me. The BMW is a strong car with great speed and reliability and Team BMW are the best in business. Missing out on the drivers’ crown in the last race of 2017 was a great disappointment, but I like to look forward and this new season offers a shiny new opportunity to show what we can do.”
Rob Collard said: “Last year was my best BTCC campaign performance-wise and it was bitterly disappointing that injury ruled me out of the final five races and prevented me from taking the title fight down to the wire. I’m fully recovered now and am better-prepared than I’ve ever been for a race season as I aim for the Drivers’ championship. Team BMW have worked extremely hard over the winter to improve the car in many different areas and the results have been encouraging in testing. I’ve won three times at Brands Hatch and it’s always been a track at which I’ve been able to show great speed. I’ve no reason to think this weekend will be any different.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “We’re heading into the new season and as always, targeting the Drivers’, Teams’ and Manufacturers’ titles, which should be no surprise to anybody. We’ve won six championships over the past four years with the BMW 125i M Sport, which continues to be a front-running car due to the way the very experienced WSR engineers have developed it since 2013. Continuity with the same drivers and engineers helps us to develop a very good package. However, we are up against some very tough competition this year. The BMW B48 turbocharged engine showed very good reliability last season and the combination of this powerplant and the developments that have gone into the chassis gives us confidence, as does having some of the BTCC’s best drivers. Brands Indy has been a successful circuit for us and this year, perhaps more than ever before, it will be crucial to try and bag big points at your good tracks, as the competition looks to have gone up a level once more.”