Team RAC will be celebrating today after doing the double at the final meeting of the HIQ MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch yesterday (Sunday 21 September). Team RAC again won the Independent Teams Trophy and Colin Turkington retained the Independent Drivers Championship.
Despite entering the weekend 22 points ahead of Mat Jackson, winning the Independents was by no means going to be an easy task for Turkington.Jackson won the first two races of the day making it extremely tough for the Northern Irishman. However a points tally of323 secured Turkington the Independent Drivers Championship.
Round 28Colin Turkington moved a step towards securing the Independents Drivers Championship but a win for Jackson meant the title would go to the wire.
In beautiful sunshine, in front of another bumper crowd at Brands Hatch, Stephen Jelley began the first race of the day in pole position after a great performance in qualifying. Jelley began positively but was nudged by Mat Jackson at the end of the opening lap dropping him down to second place.
Early in the second lap the safety car was deployed and soon after the race resumed, a missed shift created a gearbox problem forcing Jelley to retire.
26 year-old Turkington began the race from sixth on the grid. After biding his time for the early part of the race, a great move from Turkington on lap 15 saw him pass Shedden to fifth. Turkington began to put pressure on former team-mate Rob Collard and on lap 23 he was able to capitalise on an error from Turner to move up fourth, where he eventually finished the race.
Round 29With a revised set up on the car, Colin Turkington drove well to secure a superb spot on the podium while Jelley battled bravely from the back.
Starting from fourth on the grid Turkington suffered a sluggish start and dropped to sixth place. The positions remained static until lap 10 when Plato slowed, promoting Turkington to fifth.
Turkington then patiently waited behind Neal, ready to capitalise on any move made by the former BTCC champion. On lap 15 his opportunity came as Neal was pushing Kane eventually passed him on the start- finish line.Turkington used the move to his advantage and pushed through to fourth.
The same move was to be repeated when Neal and Turkington picked off Collard on lap 19. Turkington's strategy eventually secured him a place on the podium.
Stephen Jelley suffered some bad luck in the first race and was determined to battle his way up the grid from 21st place. A superb start saw him move up to 15th and a strong performance from the Leicester-born driver saw him steadily move up the field throughout the race. He eventually finished just outside the points in 12th place.
Round 30Colin Turkington retained his title as Independent Champion after a tense and incident-packed race.
Turkington and Jelley started in 6th and 12th places respectively. Early in the race the safety car was deployed after John George was involved in a terrifying high-speed roll, from which he fortunately escaped unharmed.On the restart Jelley and Turkington drove sensibly and stayed out of trouble - keeping to the Team RAC strategy.
The race ended behind the safety car after Martyn Bell's car blew an engine, coating the circuit in oil, causing a number of drivers, including Stephen Jelley, to slip off into the gravel.
Turkington finished in 5th place enough to retain his Independents title.
Colin Turkington commented: "I'm delighted to have retained my title as Independents Champion and to have helped Team RAC win the Independent Teams Trophy again. It has been a fantastic season and I am really pleased with my overall performance.
"Team RAC have given me a great car this year and for that I am extremely grateful. It will be good to have a few weekends off now the season has ended but I'll be itching to get back in the car and am already excited about the prospect of 2009."
Commenting on his first BTCC season Stephen Jelley said: "It has been a challenging but fun season for me. At the start I didn't really have the pace but I have improved steadily throughout the year, which culminated in starting on pole today.
"Next season I am looking forward to starting further up the grid and returning to the circuits for a second time."
WSR Team Principal Dick Bennetts said: "It's been a very competitive season and the Independents Trophy was hard earned. With 14 cars qualifying within half a second of each other, it was great to see Stephen qualify on pole.
We had a strategy today which was to retain both Independents titles.Colin kept cool, drove with his head, and thoroughly deserved the final result after a tough but rewarding season."
Kerry Gazzard, RAC Sponsorship and PR Consultant: "What a fantastic result for Team RAC. The team have all worked incredibly hard this year so it's great to see them reap the rewards.
It has been another superb day of racing for the fans, who again turned out in their droves. I'm sure I can speak for the whole team when I express my thanks to the Team RAC fans for their support throughout the year."
The overall Drivers Championship was won by Fabrizio Giovanardi.