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BTCC's Turkington confident ahead of Brands Hatch this weekend

Wednesday, March 29 2017

Double Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Champion Colin Turkington is ready to return BMW to the winners' circle at Brands Hatch this weekend (1/2 April), when the new season gets underway on the Indy circuit.

BMW returns to the ranks of BTCC manufacturers after a 20-year break, teaming up with WSR, which has run a 125i M-Sport since 2013. The Northern Irishman wants to celebrate with his and the team's third championship title after coming close with Subaru last year.

"I'm really confident," said Colin, who returned to WSR after parting ways with Subaru in January. "I've got a brilliant team behind me and of course a car that I know very well, having been there from the very beginning with the 1 Series in 2013, so I'm looking forward to this season

"We've put in some good miles and crucially the package should be stronger than what the team had last year. There's been work on every side, especially the engine, which we hope is a big step forward from last year."

Colin won his second championship with the 125i M-Sport, but when WSR lost their title sponsor he was forced to look elsewhere to defend his title. He was a front-runner in the Team BMR-prepared VW CC and Subaru Levorg, which are both much bigger cars than the BMW.

Despite two years away, it didn't take long for Colin to reacquaint himself with the BMW, however. "It felt strange initially because I've been used to something else," he said. "The car felt small inside, but after half a dozen laps it all came flooding back and then the feeling became very natural again."

Despite the abrupt end, Colin looks back fondly on his time at BMR: "It's good to be pushed outside your comfort zone and that made me have to work extra hard because I was moving from something I knew very well into a front-wheel-drive Touring Car [the 2015 VW CC]. I really had to reassess everything and be very disciplined in my driving, so it's definitely cemented that ethos in how I approach my racing now."

After partnering Jason Plato at BMR last year, Colin teams up with another former champion, Andrew Jordan at BMW, where they are also joined by race-winner Rob Collard. "We've clearly got a very strong line-up," Colin said. "We can really push this one to the front of the grid and when the flag drops it's every man for himself. You'll still got to beat the 31 other guys on the grid so it doesn't really matter if they're in the same car as you or not, but I think the fact that there are three really strong guys on the team is an asset. Certainly the priority of this team is to work together as much as possible and get BMW across the line first."

Colin's chances of being first across the line are certainly better than last year, when his priority was just getting on the grid. "This time last year I hadn't sat in my car yet," he recalled of Subaru's late start. "It was the opening practice session before I had my first time out and that was the start of development, but the BMW is a fantastic car and the chassis is very well developed. Our testing was focussed on learning the 2017 construction tyre, so certainly I think we can hit the ground running and put good points in the bag early on."

Tickets for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch on 1/2 April are available from £27, with free entry for under-13s. For more information or to book, call 0843 453 9000 or click here.