BMW stars focussed on further success as BTCC returns at Snetterton
The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) races back into action at Snetterton this weekend (3/4 August) from its annual summer break, with BMW and its star drivers firmly intent on preserving their positions at the head of the pack.
Following a successful outing at Oulton Park, yielding a brace of victories for Colin Turkington – including his milestone 50th BTCC triumph – two podium finishes for Andrew Jordan and a career-best points haul for Tom Oliphant, BMW sits atop the Manufacturers’ classification, with Team BMW setting the pace in the Teams’ table.
Turkington similarly headed into the five-week hiatus leading the way in the chase for the Drivers’ crown, 33 points ahead of team-mate Jordan in second. The Northern Irishman has a record-equalling fourth championship title in his sights in the UK’s premier motorsport series this year – and four previous victories at Snetterton to his name.
Team BMW stablemate Oliphant has also shone there in support series in seasons past – in addition to tallying a double top ten finish in his BTCC rookie campaign last year – while BMW Pirtek Racing’s Jordan has two race wins in Norfolk on his CV.
Between them, the trio covered almost 300 laps of Snetterton’s ‘300’ layout – the longest circuit on the calendar at 2.97 miles – during a two-day pre-event test earlier this month, with Turkington placing inside the top six in three of the four sessions.
This weekend, an extra challenge will be thrown into the mix as – for the first time ever – all drivers must use each of the three Dunlop tyre compounds over the course of the three races. All of the race day action will be broadcast live and in high-definition on ITV4 on Sunday, 4 August, beginning at 10:45am.
“I feel like we’re going into Snetterton well-prepared,” said Team BMW’s Turkington. “The test was great seat time and our first opportunity to really try out some big changes on the new BMW 3 Series, which is something we never have time for at race weekends. It was nice to tick a few boxes, and the chassis handled really well.
“I enjoy Snetterton as a circuit – it’s quite technical with some great corners where the driver can really make a difference, and it isn’t easy to put three good sectors together. I will also start the weekend with quite a heavy car due to success ballast for leading the championship; that’s another factor to consider, but we have a plan… The competition always steps up a level over the second half of the year, and I have no doubt that it will be a very hard-fought battle but I’m fully focussed on getting the maximum out of myself and delivering the best performance I can. We’re not setting any outlandish targets, but what we do need to do is keep scoring consistently well across all three races each weekend. That’s the key in the BTCC.”
“As with every track this year, Snetterton will be a step into the unknown for us with the BMW 3 Series, but the first five circuits have all suited the car pretty well and I’ve always liked competing there,” said Oliphant. “The test was very positive. You can never trust the lap times because people are playing around with success ballast and different tyres, but from our side, it was a very productive couple of days.
“We tried out a variety of concepts across the three cars and learnt a lot, and we’ve discovered a direction we are eager to pursue over the second half of the season. Tyres are definitely going to be the talking point this weekend. Having to run all three compounds will really throw a curve ball into the mix and will make for some interesting results – scoring well across all three races will be a huge challenge – but I’m feeling very comfortable and settled in both the team and the car and I’m ready to properly take the fight to my two team-mates. We went into the summer break in a good place, and we are returning in a good place. The goal now is to keep that momentum going while learning as much as possible to set ourselves up for a concerted assault in 2020. I’m really looking forward to it.”
“Snetterton generates good racing; it’s tricky to get the most out of the lap due to its mixture of low, medium and high-speed corners, but the BMW 3 Series seems to be in the ‘sweet spot’ everywhere we go at the moment so I’m feeling confident,” said BMW Pirtek Racing’s Jordan. “We spent the second day of the test fine-tuning for the race weekend, and the car felt good. The emphasis is very much on consistency, which will be a challenge at Snetterton due to the tyre situation and it will be interesting to see what people do strategy-wise.
“Ballast will be more of a handicap than at most tracks due to Snetterton’s stop-start nature and heavy braking areas; I think Colin and I will certainly feel that in qualifying and race one, but we just have to make the best of the situation. I really need to start eating into Colin’s points advantage now. This is the best chance I’ve had to take the title since my championship-winning year in 2013, so it’s time to get stuck in!”