We’re reliving the efforts of a record 13 different Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race winners from 2017, and today it’s the turn of Team BMW’s Colin Turkington.
The Ulsterman’s victory at Donington Park made it five winners from the opening six rounds of what was already shaping up to be an ultra-competitive campaign.
Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Gordon Shedden had looked to have sewn up a top points score after a strong drive in difficult conditions, passing four cars ahead of him despite losing early ground to Josh Cook’s Ford Focus off the line. The Scot made it back past Cook three laps later before latching onto the back of Turkington’s 125i M Sport, slipping by the BMW at the end of the same tour.
Pole-sitter Dave Newsham scampered into the distance while those behind battled amongst themselves but, now in clear air, Shedden was able to reel in the BTC Norlin Racing Chevrolet, making a move stick around the outside of Redgate for the lead. Drama ensued after the chequered flag fell, however, when it became clear that the Civic Type R had fallen foul of ride height regulations and had been excluded from the final result.
It all meant that Turkington had actually made the winning move on lap eight, passing Newsham at the final chicane for what became a net 20-point haul.
“That was incredibly tricky,” said Turkington post-race. “We were just on the limit of grip everywhere. The Craner Curves were just the biggest challenge. I enjoyed it, and I was just trying to focus on Gordon and keep the lap times consistent.”
Another victory followed at Thruxton as the Ulsterman’s title charge gathered momentum. Turkington’s Round 29 victory, though, was something really special and ensured the race for the title would go down to the wire.
The double champ flew from 15th on the grid to eventually muscle his way beyond leader Aiden Moffat’s Laser Tools Racing Mercedes, clinching what was an emotional win.
There was no time to waste in his chase and the 125i M Sport scythed beyond several seasoned racers, as well as eventual champion and then-direct rival for the crown Ash Sutton in the Adrian Flux Subaru Racing Levorg.
“I’ve still got the fight!” said an impassioned Turkington after Round 29. “What an amazing race. I wasn’t expecting to make that much progress but the strategy was really good. I missed out in race one but with the soft tyre and no weight the 1 Series was blinding.
“I had the fire in my belly, there was too much at stake not to. The grip was there in the warmer part of the day. Once you make a few places up, you get a bit of confidence and we were strong in the right areas, so I could make the cutback and we were strong on the brakes too.
“Aiden (Moffat) was carrying full weight and driving a very defensive race – I came with so much more pace and was able to brake so much deeper.
“The disparity between the two cars at that point was pretty obvious and there was too much at stake to follow him around, so I may have just kissed him.”
It wasn’t to be in the end for Turkington as a puncture ended any potential championship charge in the finale prematurely, leaving Sutton to seal the deal and his maiden BTCC crown.