Colin Turkington is within touching distance of the Independents Trophy title after outscoring his nearest rival Mat Jackson in the ninth round of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship at Silverstone.
A good weekend for Team RAC was complete as Stephen Jelley recorded a seventh place finish - his best in the BTCC Drivers Championship - after qualifying seventh on Saturday.
Turkington lies third in the overall championship standings, while leading the Independents standings with 293 points, 22 ahead of his nearest rival. Team RAC leads the Independents Team Trophy table with 308 points with just the Brands Hatch meeting remaining.
Round 25A skilful drive from Stephen Jelley helped the Leicester-born driver to his best finish in his BTCC career.
As forecast, heavy rain fell minutes prior to the start of the race, significantly reducing visibility. Jelley started seventh on the grid, but dropped to 12th by the end of the first lap. Undeterred by the conditions, Jelley worked his way through the field, eventually passing Andrew Jordan on lap 22 to secure four well-earned championship points.
Hampered by an uncharacteristically sluggish start, Colin Turkington finished the race in stunning fashion, passing championship leader Fabrizio Giovanardi three laps from the flag.
Turkington narrowly missed out on a podium place to finish fourth – less than two hundredths of a second behind Darren Turner – who somehow held off the challenge of the Team RAC man on the final lap.
Round 26Colin Turkington recovered from another indifferent start to secure a superb second spot and an Independents victory following an incident-packed race.
After biding his time in fourth position, the Northern Irishman took advantage of the ongoing battle for second place between Jason Plato and Matt Neal to pass them both within two laps and extend his advantage at the top of the Independents Championship.
Stephen Jelley’s race ended on the second lap as he aggravated an old shoulder injury which left him unable to steer.
Jelley, however, shrugged off any fears that he may miss race three: “I’ll be ready, no question. It is an old injury. A dislocated shoulder sounds awful but in my case it is nothing serious. I got knocked slightly which jarred my steering, leading to my shoulder popping out of joint. It was unfortunate but these things happen.”
Round 27Colin Turkington launched a stirring fightback after a collision with Tom Onslow-Cole threatened to de-rail an otherwise profitable day for the Team RAC driver.
Starting ninth on the grid following the grid reversal and carrying 36kg ballast, Turkington carved up the field within three laps and was challenging for second place when Onslow-Cole needlessly steered into the Team RAC driver. After dropping down to ninth, the 26-year-old maintained his composure to once again move through the field, culminating in passing Jason Plato on the penultimate lap to finish fourth.
The race Stewards reviewed the incident between Turkington and Onslow-Cole after the event and concluded that Onslow-Cole was at fault. He was fined and his licence endorsed; scant consolation for Turkington as the move probably deprived him of a race victory.
Stephen Jelley earned another overall championship point after finishing a very respectable tenth having started 19th on the grid. A collision with Gordon Shedden could not halt Jelley’s charge into the points placings as he drove with quality, thus enjoying his most profitable day in his fledgling BTCC career so far.
Colin Turkington commented: “Team RAC has scored consistently throughout the day and a win in the last race would have topped it off. To be honest, I am pretty frustrated at Tom Onslow-Cole’s move which was needless in the extreme."
“Despite the points gap, I won’t be taking anything for granted when it comes to the Independents title. Mat Jackson has had a good day, but I am feeling confident going into Brands Hatch where I think we can get the job done.”
WSR Team Principal Dick Bennetts said: “It’s been a good weekend all round for Team RAC. It was frustrating to have a possible win for Colin Turkington denied by some careless driving from Tom Onslow-Cole but we were competitive despite the 36kg ballast.
“Stephen Jelley qualified very well yesterday and continued that form today. The entire team are looking forward to Brands Hatch where we hope Colin can repeat his success of last year.”
Kerry Gazzard, RAC Sponsorship and PR Consultant: “It has been great for Team RAC to be part of a fantastic day which has seen the celebration of 60 years of motorsport at Silverstone. We are looking forward to Brands Hatch where the team are confident they can end the season on a high.”
The final round of the 2008 BTCC season heads South to Brands Hatch on the weekend of 20/21 September.
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.