Team RAC’s Colin Turkington had a superb day at Thruxton (18th May) in the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship which saw him secure two podium finishes and Stephen Jelley continue to build on his BTCC experience.
Turkington secured eighth place on the grid during qualifying, but was confident that the track at Thruxton would be conducive to the BMW rear-wheel drive car and allow him to move up the ranks throughout the day.
On his first BTCC drive at the Hampshire circuit, Jelley began the day from 13th on the grid but was able to build on this.
After rounds 10, 11 and 12 Turkington is eighth in the BTCC Championship Drivers standings with 63 points, while Stephen Jelley is 17th with one point.
The first race of the day saw Colin Turkington secure his second podium finish of 2008 with a convincing second place finish. The action began immediately with the Northern Irishman jostling for position at the first corner and moving up to fifth from his starting position of eighth.
Turkington put in a great performance to keep the pressure on the leaders in the early laps and edged his way past Giovanardi on lap seven to take fourth position. On lap eight the leader Gordon Shedden was forced to make a pit stop following a punctured tyre moving Turkington into third. He made a tremendous effort to pass Plato on lap 12 and finished the race in second.
Colin said “ Towards the end of the race the car really came into its own. I was a bit disappointed to qualify eighth but I knew that the track suits the BMW. It’s been a frustrating few weeks for the team so I’m delighted to get back on the podium. Another podium finish today would be great!”
Team-mate Jelley started the race in 13th place and the Leicester-born driver held that position for the first few laps. After dropping back down to 14th the 26-year old pushed his way up to 12th on lap eight and managed to fight off challenges to keep that as his final position.
Team RAC scored another podium finish on the second race of the day thanks to superb driving from Colin Turkington which saw him finish second.
Turkington had the best possible start to the race, moving instantly from second on the grid to take the lead. The safety car came out after the second lap until lap six after which Fabrizio Giovanardi was constantly challenging Turkington for the lead and eventually forced him into second.
The front few drivers were all jostling for places but Turkington skillfully retained second place for most of the race. Having dropped to a close third he regained second place in a thrilling final round which saw Giovanardi come off the track with a punctured tyre. A great round from Turkington led to his second podium finish as runner up.
Jelley started in 11th but suffered frontal damage to his car following an incident with Martyn Bell as Bell spun off the track on the first lap. Despite this, he challenged those ahead of him to work up to eighth place. He consistently fought for position in the middle of the grid, eventually finishing 11th.
The third and final race of the day was one of mixed fortunes for Team RAC with Turkington obtaining his third good finish of the day but Jelley unable to finish.Turkington started the reverse grid in eighth place and battled for position in a tightly contested first lap to move up to seventh. Midway through the race he slipped down the grid slightly but fought his way back up to ninth before a tremendous lap 13 saw him move up three places to finish a very respectable sixth.Jelley began the final race in 11th and at one point was just behind Turkington, where he fought hard to move up the grid. Unfortunately he picked up a puncture at the chicane and had to withdraw from the race on lap 12.
Colin Turkington said: “ Three good finishes, two podiums and two Independent Championship wins has meant it’s been a good day at the office for me! We seem to have more momentum and I feel more confident going into the next few rounds. Thruxton isn’t our strongest track but we know the next rounds well so I’m really looking forward to building on today at Croft.”
Stephen Jelley added: “ Today was a bit frustrating for me, particularly as I think we had the car at the best it’s ever been. I was really pleased to make up a couple of places in Race 1 and in Race 3 I was just behind Colin and the car felt really quick. I was annoyed to have to withdraw but I’m confident in myself and the car for Croft.
WSR Team Principal Dick Bennetts said: “We aimed for three good finishes today and we certainly achieved that. Colin’s successes today as Independents Champion and his podium finishes are very encouraging for the rest of the season. It has been a more difficult day for Stephen but Thruxton is a tricky circuit so he should still do well in the next few rounds.”
RAC continued its season long promotion to win a BMW. Fans can go online at teamrac.co.uk for a chance to win a car and a host of other top prizes.
Kerry Gazzard, RAC Sponsorship and PR Consultant, commented: “Thruxton has been an exciting day for both the Team & supporters. Team RAC have provided lots of on-track action and two podium finishes this weekend. The whole team are looking forward to Croft where we hope to repeat today’’s success. ”The BTCC action now moves to Croft on Sunday 1 June.