TEAM BMW RESTED AND READY FOR KNOCKHILL
Team BMW enjoyed another strong performance in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park last time out, proving consistency is key, with the squad furthering its lead in the standings as the series’ fourth event of the 2020 season nears, at Knockhill this weekend (29/30 August).
Entering the third event of the season and riding a wave of momentum following a sensational maiden BTCC win at Brands Hatch two weeks’ prior, Tom Oliphant and standings leader Colin Turkington battled the elements to add to their ever-growing trophy collection.
Having qualified third ahead of the opening encounter, reigning champion Turkington would initially move forward into second, while Oliphant rocketed off the line into third.
With the two BMWs initially holding two of the podium spots, the unrelenting heavy rainfall – and success ballast being carried – would somewhat hamper the pair and, come the chequered flag, it was a fifth place finish for Turkington and 13th for Oliphant. Following the exclusion of race winner Josh Cook, both drivers moved one spot up the order.
Race two marked the second wet BTCC race of 2020, and saw Turkington secure another podium finish, in third, while Oliphant moved up the order with a string of eye-catching overtakes to sixth place.
The reverse grid draw saw Oliphant lining up fifth for the final outing in Cheshire, with Turkington in eighth. Both drivers made strong starts to work through the pack, as the #15 BMW of Oliphant took second behind Adam Morgan from the off, before Turkington joined his team-mate in the podium positions by lap three.
Despite putting the pressure on leader Morgan, the Mercedes driver defended the position as it was a battle of the locals for the top spot. A lap six decision from the team resulted in Turkington moving past Oliphant, with the intentions of allowing the #1 BMW to go on the attack.
The result, however, seemed a tale of what might have been, as a lap 10 red flag caused by an incident further back in the pack would cease any opportunity for Turkington to pass the Mercedes.
Completing the weekend with a second and third place finish for Turkington and Oliphant, respectively, the squad retains its place at the top of the Teams’ standings, and Turkington keeps his lead in the overall Drivers’ Championship, whilst Oliphant currently holds fourth.
“It was a pretty tough race day so to come away with a podium in the reverse grid encounter was great,” said Oliphant. “It was just what we needed and keeps us in the mix towards the top of the standings.
“Race one was tough, we made a good start but the heavy rain along with the used wet tyres transpired against us. Race two was much better; we had great pace and the team gave me a great car, allowing me to pull off a couple of late moves.
“I gave it everything I had to get past Adam in race three and ultimately played the team game to let Colin through to see if he could find a way past. We had agreed to swap back positions but the red flag prevented that from happening. To come away with third is still fantastic though and momentum is on our side heading to Knockhill.”
“You never quite know how a weekend is going to play out when the weather is unpredictable like that,” reflected Turkington. “The greasy, damp conditions didn’t favour our RWD cars. We usually race here in mid summer and with all the recent rain, the grip levels were particularly low on this occasion to what we are used to. I’m really pleased with the points we tucked away, and happy with my performance throughout the course of the weekend.
“It’s always after a weekend like that when the fans comment about how entertaining the series is and the guts it takes to be out doing what we do. For me it’s all about the preparation, being patient and enjoying the racing. There were a few saves for all of us in those first two races! In race one with the onset of rain on the grid, nobody had any time to set the car up for the wet, so that was incredibly difficult.”
“It’s going to be important to get some good rest in the bank and arrive in Scotland on Friday fresh and focused to go again.”
Following its successful outing in Cheshire, the squad will hope to carry the podium scoring momentum to Knockhill and build on the speed displayed earlier in the season to collect more wins in Scotland. Catch all the quail action on Saturday (29 August) on itv.com/btcc from 1520, before getting your BTCC fix on ITV2 from 1040 on Sunday (30 August).