Colin Turkington and Team BMW clinched an extraordinary triple crown on an historic final day of the 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch.
The Northern Irishman took an emotional third title, to become one of only eight drivers to have won three or more BTCC crowns (adding to those he won in 2009 and ’14), after a hugely consistent and competitive season.
BMW also ended the year as winners of the Manufacturers’ Championship while WSR-run Team BMW became Teams’ Champions on a glorious day at the Kent track.
Turkington came into the weekend with a 34-point advantage over his nearest rival and a chance to win the title in the Race One.
Having qualified 17th with maximum success ballast, that was always going to be a long shot, and he drove a cautious first race to 12th, extending that lead to 36 points. He was assisted ably by team-mate Ricky Collard – standing in for his injured father Rob – who sacrificed his own race to aid Colin’s cause.
But in the second race Turkington found himself in the gravel trap with his heart in his mouth, after a collision. But while he recovered to finish out of the points and title rival Tom Ingram came home fourth, his tally built over a phenomenally consistent year ensured he lifted the crown.
In the final race of the season, Colin ran near the tail of the field to avoid any potential penalties, while Ricky charged from 18th into the points. His 13th position clinching a triple crown for WSR and their ninth BTCC title in just five years.
Colin Turkington said: “It just feels sensational to be a three-time champion. It is special to win it once but to secure the hat-trick is something I never dreamed possible. 2018 was the toughest BTCC season ever both in terms of competitiveness and from a personal point of view. There were 17 different race winners so to come out on top is amazing. The team has done a super job all year, and to win the Drivers’, Teams’ and Manufacturers’ titles is some feat. When you consider we won just one race, but we were very consistent and always scoring points. It shows you that we worked hard and never gave up. That was always the game plan, to race clever and always be thinking about the next event. It’s so important to enjoy the moment because I can’t tell people how much you have to sacrifice to come out on top. There are so many reasons why you can’t win this championship and you just have to keep believing even when you think it’s not possible. I made myself believe that we would do it. I am so happy for WSR, for BMW and for my family. It feels like the best one because it has been the hardest year off the track. We lost an important member of the team in Tippa [Simon Wood] and I lost my Mum. The BTCC kept us focused and kept us happy and it is so special to win it in this year.”
Ricky Collard said: “I had one goal and that was to help the team. I achieved that. This weekend wasn’t as strong for me as Silverstone. But I proved again that with more running we can be more consistently at the front. That showed today as we got faster and faster. The team have done a fantastic job to win three championships. I’ve really enjoyed my time in the BTCC and I would love to come back with a full programme and find out what I could achieve in this championship.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “This is a huge achievement for the whole team. Colin thoroughly deserved to win the Drivers’ Championship. But I think it is a testament to the BMW 125i M Sport that it was so consistently strong through the season that we were able to clinch three championships with it at Brands Hatch. We achieved the same triple once before in 2014, but to get the results that we had today and still win today is fantastic. It was just a matter of finishing and getting a few points and securing them. It’s great for the whole team. Colin was very sensible in race one and race three not to get in any scrapes and that proved enough. Ricky did a good job today and put in a great stint as a team player. It’s a massive relief to get the end of the season with all three championships. I think it’s time to celebrate!”