Team BMW’s King of Croft, Colin Turkington, heads to the North Yorkshire circuit this weekend determined to try and open up a lead at the head of the British Touring Car Championship.
The reigning champion, who shares the points lead, has won 12 times at the circuit near Darlington – a BTCC record – and scored his first series podium there in his 2002 rookie season.
“I’m very pleased with the start that Team BMW have made to the season, especially when you remember that we arrived at the first race having done just one proper day of testing,” commented Dick Bennetts (Team Principal). “Croft is a circuit where having a well-sorted rear-wheel-drive car, like the BMW 330i M Sport, can help because there are a lot of slow corners leading on to long straights.
“Also, the circuit has been completely resurfaced and from our research it will be 2-3 seconds per lap quicker, so everyone will have to review their set-ups. You can never take anything for granted in the BTCC because the level of competition is so high and the gaps are so close that you have to be on top form everywhere.
“Last year at Croft, one second covered the top 20 cars in qualifying and so far this season, it’s been about the same. We’re in for a hard weekend, but hopefully it will be a successful one.”
Colin’s WSR-run BMW 330i M Sport will be the heaviest at Croft as his position at the head of the Drivers’ Championship means he carries 48kg success ballast into practice, qualifying and Race One.
The Northern Irishman, who has two wins to his name already in 2019, and who holds the current BTCC race and qualifying lap records at Croft, has 48 victories to his name in the series and could reach his half-century this weekend with a double success.
Team-mate Tom Oliphant has made a positive start to his second year in the BTCC – and his first as a Team BMW driver.
He secured his maiden podium finish in the series with third place at Donington Park in April, achieved his best qualifying performance with fifth at the Brands Hatch season-opener and lies second in the Jack Sears Trophy standings with almost a third of the season done.
The 28-year-old from Leamington was a double-winner at Croft in 2015 on his way to the BTCC-supporting G55 Supercup, so is fully adept at what it takes to successfully hustle a rear-wheel-drive racing car around its 2.1-mile layout.
The track has traditionally been a happy hunting ground for WSR, who are the most successful team in BTCC history at the North Yorkshire venue with 17 wins, including a remarkable treble victory and a one-two-three finish in 2015.
The Croft triple-header on June 15-16 is the fourth of 10 events in this year’s BTCC, which takes in eight circuits the length and breadth of the country. Each race will be screened live and exclusively on ITV4 in HD.