Colin Turkington and Team BMW re-took the lead of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship with a hard-fought podium finish on an action-packed day of racing at Rockingham.
The two-time BTCC champion snatched a last-gasp second-place finish at the final corner of Race Three at the Northamptonshire circuit to put himself ahead in the Drivers’ title race by four points.
The Northern Irishman had earlier taken his WSR-run BMW 125i M Sport to seventh and fifth places as light rain fell during each of the day’s three races, making conditions extra-tricky for the packed grid of drivers.
His seventh podium finish of the year and the 130th of his career also helped Team BMW to reclaim the lead of the Teams’ Championship and enabled BMW to maintain their Manufacturers’ points lead.
His new team-mate, Ricky Collard, made superb progress in Race One to climb from 26th on the grid to 17th by the chequered flag; the BTCC debutant setting the fifth-fastest lap of the race in the process.
The BMW Motorsport Junior, from Eversley, Hampshire, was a victim of rough driving in Race Two and finished 20th, but was unable to make up for his misfortune when an issue stopped his car on the Race Three formation lap.
The series continues at Knockhill, Scotland, on August 25-26.
Colin Turkington said: “It feels great to be back on top of the championship and to pull a result like that out of the bag when the weekend didn’t seem to be going our way. The team’s done a fantastic job to improve the car in every session over the weekend, and the result was a really strong podium in Race Three. We didn’t have the fastest car here, but we’ve worked tirelessly and seventh, fifth and second is a good points haul and one that boosts our title challenge.”
Ricky Collard said: “The whole weekend’s been a huge learning experience. While the results weren’t what we’d hoped for, the potential is clearly there, as we proved by setting the fifth-fastest lap in Race One. The racecraft in this series is different to anything I’ve experienced in my racing career and it’s going to take a bit of time to get used to, but I’ll take everything I’ve learned here and put it into practice at Knockhill in two weeks’ time.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “We arrived here leading the Manufacturers’ Championship and we leave ahead in the Drivers’ and Teams’ title races as well, so we’ve achieved what we set out to do. We knew Rockingham wasn’t the kind of place where you can be competitive across the weekend with a heavily-ballasted car, but we’ve worked to maximise the BMW in the dry and damp conditions and the result has been a good one. Colin’s shown all his experience to score points in all three races and Ricky had some very good speed in Race One, but got beaten up by some of the rough diving in Race Two. He was thrown in at the deep end, but he’s done a good job.”