WSR looking for more Croft success
Team BMW is aiming to top the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship this weekend as the series reaches its halfway point at the demanding Croft Circuit.
Three wins so far in 2017 from Rob Collard and Colin Turkington have placed the West Surrey Racing-backed outfit second in the Teams’ standings while BMW lead the Manufacturers’ tally.
Hampshireman Rob Collard is the only driver to have finished on the podium at every race weekend this year and was victorious on his past two visits to Croft in 2015 and ‘16.
He heads to North Yorkshire second in the Drivers’ Championship as the only driver to have scored points in every race, but will carry 66kg success ballast into the weekend, making his BMW the second-heaviest car in the field.
With 11 wins at Croft, Collard’s team-mate Turkington has twice as many BTCC victories at the 2.1-mile circuit near Darlington as any other driver in the series.
His 19 podiums – including his first in the BTCC, achieved with WSR in 2002 – five pole positions and nine fastest laps at Croft, indicate he’ll be among the front-runners once more.
The Ulsterman, who lies fourth in the BTCC points, has won twice in 2017 and heads to Croft with 48kg success ballast in his BMW.
BMW Pirtek Racing’s Andrew Jordan delivered a superb second win of the year last time out at Oulton Park to move up to seventh in the Drivers’ Championship. The driver from Lichfield, Staffordshire, has a special link to Croft as it was the scene of his maiden BTCC victory in 2010. He will attempt to add more success while carrying 27kg success ballast into the weekend.
WSR, who run the trio of BMW 125i M Sports from their Sunbury-on-Thames headquarters, is the most successful team in BTCC history at Croft with 16 race wins, including a treble victory and a lock-out of the podium in 2015. Their next race win will be the team’s 75th in the BTCC and their 50th with BMW machinery.
Rob Collard said: “It’s been a very strong season so far and we’re second in the championship with a lot more points than at this stage of the 2016 season. I’m the only driver to score a podium at every event so far and we’ve tended to have two very good finishes each weekend, which has served us very well. It’s important to score big this weekend as Croft is a track where WSR have been very strong in the past and where I’ve won in each of the past two years, but we seem to be closer than ever before at the non-BMW circuits, so I genuinely think we can win anywhere.”
Colin Turkington said: “Croft has some very special memories for me, like my first podium in the BTCC and double wins in each of my title-winning seasons, and the BMW has traditionally been so good around here that I always enjoy coming back. Oulton Park didn’t quite go to plan, so it’s doubly important to score big points at Croft before we start going to the circuits that aren’t usually so good for us. Fourth is a strong place to be in the points and if we can score well, we’re pretty likely to be higher up by the end of the weekend.”
Andrew Jordan said: “My championship challenge re-started at Oulton Park. From the moment I got into the car at in first practice, I just knew I was going to be fast, and it couldn’t have gone much better. Like Oulton, Croft is a circuit that’s always been good for the rear-wheel-drive BMW because of the number of slow corners that reward a car that’s strong in the traction zones. Although I’ll be going in with more success ballast than I did at Oulton, I’m confident of another big points haul to help me continue to close the gap to the top of the points table.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “We’ve had a lot of success at Croft in the past with 16 wins and even a one-two-three finish in 2015, so it’s certainly a circuit at which we’ve been able to use the strengths of the BMW to the best possible effect. But that’s history and this weekend is now; and everybody at WSR will work extremely hard to make sure we can fight at the front. This year, with 32 cars on the grid, and a very competitive top-15 cars, it won’t be easy. Both Team BMW cars will carry a lot of success ballast, but if you’re going to fight for a championship, that’s the way it has to be and we’re used to it.”
“The thing that’s impressed me most about Andrew this year is his ability to do what true champions do and not dwell on a bad weekend. He showed at Oulton Park that he’s not affected by what happened earlier in the season and drove very well. Like Oulton, Croft is a track at which we’ve done well in the past with the BMW and we’ve continued to work hard on the car this year to make sure it remains a contender at every circuit. The plan is to score big and enhance our position in the championship.”