100 up for BMW
Rob Collard and Colin Turkington combined at Thruxton to give BMW its landmark 100th race win in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
The upshot was not only an increased advantage in the BTCC Teams’ Championship for WSR-run Team BMW but also a boost to BMW’s advantage at the head of the Manufacturers’ title race.
Hampshireman Collard leapt up to third place at the start of Round 8 from 10th on the grid, in a typically swashbuckling getaway from the grid. By the time the race was red flagged on lap three, he had scythed his BMW 125i M Sport into the lead.
At the restart, he drove away from the field to take a maiden victory on home turf, a first in 2017 and the 14th of his BTCC career following a race that was declared short of its intended distance due to a second red flag incident.
“It feels fantastic to get a victory so early in the season and to do it at my local circuit made it even more special – especially as Thruxton isn’t a track we expected to win at,” said Collard. “We’ve worked hard to maximise not just the starts, but the early laps, and the results were strong.
“With full success ballast on-board in race three it was always going to be difficult to finish well, so seventh was a very useful haul of points to add to those achieved earlier in the day and it means we go to Oulton Park – a track we’re normally strong at – in very good shape.”
“It was an explosive few laps!” beamed Collard. “The BMW felt absolutely stunning and I was so pleased for the team. We did a lot at the first start, and then the re-start was textbook. I had a really good opening lap and then I’m not sure what happened to Matt (Neal). It was obviously a shame for him but I will take this one, and with pride.
“I must admit, going three-abreast into the chicane was pretty scary! I had one of the Hondas on my left and then cheeky Jack Goff snuck up my inside on the right – I didn’t see that one coming! The BMW was on fire this weekend.”
Northern Irishman Turkington followed that up with a commanding victory from pole position in the reversed-grid third race, achieving BMW’s 100th BTCC success and the 48th achieved with Sunbury-on-Thames-based WSR.
Added to seventh and sixth places earlier in the day, Turkington’s second win of the year ensured he left Thruxton third in the Drivers’ Championship. Rob’s 10th and seventh places in the other races – the latter result coming with a full 75kg of success ballast – puts him fourth overall.
“I’m incredibly proud to take the 100th BTCC win for BMW, a company with such an incredible record of success in touring car racing,” said Turkington. “Doubly so, because I grew up watching Jo Winkelhock and Steve Soper and wishing one day I could do the same as them.
“We didn’t have the fastest car today at what isn’t traditionally a rear-wheel-drive circuit, but we definitely worked the hardest to make sure we had enough pace when it counted. Without the reversed-grid pole, I’m not sure we could have won today, but we’ve made it work for us and it’s a very special day for the whole team.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “We are immensely proud to have scored BMW’s 100th win in the British Touring Car Championship. We’ve run BMWs since 2007 and they’ve been a fantastic partner throughout that time. Rob drove magnificently in Race Two, making a great start and really braving it out at the chicane when he was three-wide early on.
“I think the race being stopped and declared early helped us, because I’m not sure what would have happened if it had gone the full distance. We were fortunate to have Colin drawn on pole for Race Three, but he made the most of it and drove beautifully. Colin and Rob are now third and fourth in the points and we’re leading the Teams’ and Manufacturers’ standings, so it’s been a very satisfying weekend.”