AFTER IMPRESSIVE WEEKEND
Colin Turkington lies in second place after the first meeting of the 2009 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship season at Brands Hatch.Turkington claimed a second, third and fourth place to register 32 points, leaving him six points shy of Championship leader Matt Neal.Stephen Jelley took his best ever finish in his BTCC career, finishing fourth in the second race of the day. Coupled with a seventh spot in the opening round,� Jelley has 12 points overall.Round 1 A stunning start from Team RAC�s Colin Turkington laid the platform for an impressive podium finish in the opening round of the 2009 season.Having begun the race fourth on the grid, Turkington passed both pole-sitter Matt Neal and current champion Fabrizio Giovanardi before the first corner at Paddock Hill Bend.
The early introduction of the safety car disrupted the momentum of the 27-year-old and, having momentarily taken the outright lead, a see-saw battle with Neal ensued culminating in the car of Turkington being pushed off line.After another skirmish, this time with Giovanardi, Turkington ultimately claimed third place to secure his first points of the season and a maximum Independents points haul.Stephen Jelley improved on his qualifying position after finishing a creditable seventh, just 0.002 seconds behind Jason Plato. Jelley took four Championship points for his efforts.Round 2Storming starts from both Colin Turkington and Stephen Jelley paved the way for another successful round for Team RAC at Brands Hatch.Jelley recorded his finest position of his BTCC career to finish fourth, outpacing Gordon Shedden, Jonathan Adam, Andrew Jordan, Fabrizio Giovanardi and Matt Neal to find himself third on the opening lap.
For the second time in the day, Giovanardi eased Jelley out of a podium position and into fifth but a tyre problem for last year�s Champion allowed Jelley to eventually finish a comfortable fourth.
Turkington outmanoeuvred both Matt Neal and Fabrizio Giovanardi at the start and took charge of the race, leading until the penultimate lap when Rob Collard drove squarely into the back of his BMW320si at Druids. With Turkington off line, Collard pushed his way past to take the chequered flag, the Northern Irishman finishing second.Round 3Despite carrying ballast totalling 36kg and starting ninth on the reversed grid, Colin Turkington surged through the field to finish a highly-respectable fourth place in the final race of the day at Brands Hatch.
Turkington passed Gordon Shedden on lap 21 to secure another eight points and keep him firmly in the Overall Drivers Championship hunt.Stephen Jelley's day ended early on the third lap as a Team RAC driver was yet again embroiled in an incident involving Rob Collard at Druids. Jelley's car sustained irreparable front right suspension damage.Jelley said: "The cars in front of me were travelling slowly and as I moved closer there was nowhere for me to go as Collard left me no room. It is a very disappointing end to the day as points were there for the taking."
On his overall performance, a more upbeat Jelley said: �We have a very quick car and moved forward from our qualifying position which is very positive. A fourth and a seventh position are good points results for me.
"I am clearly in a better place than I was 12 months ago and am confident for the season that lay ahead.�Colin Turkington said: "This has been a very strong weekend - not only for me, but for Team RAC. While the second race was a disappointment, you don�t need to win every race to be in contention for the Championship."Even with the ballast in the final race, the car felt well balanced. Overall, I am delighted with how today has gone and look forward to Thruxton in three weeks time."
WSR Team Principal Dick Bennetts said: "It has been a strong day for Team RAC and we are definitely better off than we were 12 months ago.Colin performed very well throughout the weekend and is a product of the good work he has been doing with his new engineer John [Morton]. Stephen has started the season promisingly and will score well throughout the year.�"
Kerry Gazzard, RAC Sponsorship and PR Consultant, said: "This is a excellent start to the season and it was great to see the crowds out supporting Team RAC."The launch of the Team RAC webshop has proved extremely successful and the team get a real buzz when they see the stands packed full of team merchandise."Team RAC also entertained Kent County Cricket Club players Martin Saggers and Simon Cook in its hospitality marquee.
Throughout the season, Team RAC are offering a 10% raceday promotion for all merchandise purchsed online by quoting teamrac.