Ricky continues in place of father Rob as Team BMW and Turkington focus on title tilt
Team BMW head to Silverstone this weekend to continue their season-long push for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
Teams’ and Manufacturers’ title winners for the past two seasons, the West Surrey Racing-run operation lead both championships again with just two triple-header weekends remaining, while Colin Turkington holds a 43-point advantage at the head of the Drivers’ points table.
The Northern Irishman, who won the BTCC in WSR BMWs in 2009 and 2014, has finished on the podium nine times in what has been the most closely-matched battle for the title in recent history.
As points leader, Turkington must carry the maximum 75kg success ballast this weekend. This makes his BMW the heaviest car in the field through practice, qualifying and the opening race.
“The determination within Team BMW remains the same as ever and it’s 100 per cent business as usual on that front,” said Turkington.
“Of course, we know we have to push our rivals to the limit, but if we keep doing what we do best, the results should follow. Now’s not the time to change our strategy; winning has been the goal since the beginning and that hasn’t changed.
“We just need to stay focused and draw on all the experience we have as a team to keep delivering the results. This is one of the toughest championships in the world to win and I’m under no illusions of the journey ahead of me, but I’m prepared to give it all I have. We’ll be taking it one race at a time, but you can rest assured we’ll be throwing everything and more behind it.”
Turkington’s team-mate will once again be BMW Motorsport Junior Ricky Collard, who drives for a third straight event as father Rob continues to recover from a concussion sustained at Snetterton in July.
The 22-year-old from Eversley, Hampshire, took his first BTCC points last time out at Knockhill in race one and added a further score later in the day. He is looking for more this time as he aims to help Team BMW win the Teams’ Championship.
Collard’s first experience of the BMW 125i M Sport came in a test on the Silverstone National Circuit last November, and the BRDC Superstar was also a winner there in British Formula 4 in 2015.
Silverstone is an important circuit in WSR’s history. It was at the ‘Home of British Motorsport’ where the team made a winning debut in British Formula 3 with Jonathan Palmer in 1981 and the location of their first BTCC win in 1998 with Will Hoy at the wheel.
“While naturally I’m disappointed for my Dad that he’s not ready to come back to racing just yet, I’m pleased to have the opportunity to race again for Team BMW at Silverstone,” said Collard.
“From my debut at Rockingham through to Knockhill I learnt a huge amount about driving the 125i M Sport and the racecraft needed to be competitive in the BTCC, and it’s great to be able to try to move my own performance on a step by having another chance.
“My role is to score as many points as I can for the Teams’ Championship and to support Colin in his bid for the Drivers’ title and I’ll do this as best as I possibly can.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, added: “The same points are available as Knockhill, Brands Hatch or almost anywhere else, so it’s very important to treat Silverstone as just another race weekend and not think too much about the title battle.
“That’s not an easy thing to do, but we’ve been winning championships for over 35 years and that experience will definitely help us this weekend.
“Silverstone’s National Circuit is simple in layout and rewards a car with strong top speed more than one with excellent handling, so I’d expect the times to be extremely close.
“Colin has a strong podium record here and Ricky’s been a winner in single-seaters and will benefit from another weekend behind the wheel. We’ll focus on optimising every area of the BMW and aim to come away still ahead in the standings.”