Record-equalling Turkington reflects on ‘special’ achievement
BMW made it back-to-back Manufacturers’ titles in the British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch last weekend, as Colin Turkington clinched a record-equalling fourth Drivers’ crown in the most dramatic fashion possible.
Turkington arrived at Brands’ legendary GP circuit – home to Formula 1’s British Grand Prix on 12 occasions between 1964 and 1986 – holding a 16-point lead in the pursuit of the most coveted prize in UK motorsport.
That margin was eroded, however, when intensifying rain over the second half of race one restricted the Northern Irishman to a fighting fifth-place finish. Having qualified on pole position for the third time in 2019, he led early on, but was ultimately powerless to withstand the attack of rivals who had pitted to switch over to wet-weather tyres during an early safety car period.
Turkington’s advantage was overturned altogether in race two, when a tag from another driver sent the Team BMW man into a spin and tumbling down to the tail of the order. That left him eight points shy of the lead going into the eagerly-anticipated finale, and with it all to do from 25th on the grid. A scintillating charge through the field secured sixth at the chequered flag – and with it, a supremely hard-earned fourth championship title.
BMW Pirtek Racing’s Andrew Jordan was similarly in the mix heading into the weekend, sitting 17 points adrift of the summit of the standings. He had reduced that deficit to just two points by the end of race three, courtesy of an eighth, second and fourth-place finish, as the 30-year-old came tantalisingly close to adding to his 2013 championship success.
The runner-up spot in the Drivers’ table was ultimately Jordan’s reward for a season in which he won more races than anybody else behind the wheel of BMW’s all-conquering new 330i M Sport.
Tom Oliphant concluded his maiden campaign with Team BMW with a sensational drive from 30th to a top ten finish in the finale. The 29-year-old proved his pace with fastest lap in race one despite the mixed conditions, before finding himself removed from contention on the opening lap of race two through no fault of his own – a setback that paved the way for his soaring charge in race three.
The results confirmed BMW’s sixth BTCC Manufacturers’ title, with Team BMW finishing second in the Teams’ classification and BMW Pirtek Racing sixth.
Colin Turkington, Driver, Team BMW, said: “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get close to Andy Rouse’s record [of four titles] – that’s amazing and very special. This has been my hardest championship yet by a long shot – to win it two laps from the end of the season is completely different to the other ones. It was the race of my life. My engineer told me that Dan [Cammish] was out, but I couldn’t see where Andrew [Jordan] was so I wasn’t sure if it was enough. I was in shock when I crossed the finish line and was told I was champion. It was just pure elation – nothing else in life gives you that feeling. I really do feel for both Andrew and Dan – it’s a bitter pill to swallow. You put in a full year’s work to try to win this, and I honestly thought it had got away from me after race two. Whenever you think you are out of it, though, there’s always a tiny little part of you that keeps believing, and we won this through hard work, grit and sheer determination.”
Tom Oliphant, Driver, Team BMW, said: “The weekend wasn’t kind to me as a whole, but I really enjoyed fighting through the field in race three – that was the way I wanted to finish the season. The track was finally consistent in that race, and I just gave it the full send and showed what this BMW is capable of. To finish inside the top ten from plum last on the grid was mega – I loved every second if it. It’s been a special year overall. It’s been a big step-up for me and I always knew it was going to be difficult, but my form over the second half of the season gives me a lot of confidence going into 2020. I’m with the best team, best car and best manufacturer – the work ethic here is absolutely phenomenal. We’ve rolled out three new cars and not had a single mechanical failure – I’m in awe of what we’ve accomplished, to be honest, and this is only the 3 Series’ first year. It’s a massive achievement.”
Andrew Jordan, Driver, BMW Pirtek Racing, said: “I don’t have many words, to be honest. There really wasn’t anything more I could have done. It’s just the one that got away. I was obviously up against it going into the weekend, but I gave it my absolute all. The weather couldn’t have made things much more difficult for us in race one – under the safety car, it was like a switch in terms of grip – but we fought back in race two. I needed to make progress and I was all guns blazing; I was coming through, as simple as that! We then came so close in race three – we certainly didn’t go down without a fight. At the end of the day, it wasn’t quite enough but the title wasn’t lost at Brands – it was lost at Donington Park back in April. We still come away from the season with six race wins, and I’m immensely proud of the job we’ve all done this year.”