Team BMW star reignites BTCC title hunt with stellar lap in Scotland
Four-time champion Colin Turkington delivered when he needed it most as the Team BMW man took pole position for Round 13 of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Knockhill earlier today (14 August).
Currently languishing down in ninth in the overall Drivers’ standings following challenging events at Brands Hatch and Oulton Park respectively, Turkington turned on the style around the tight and twisty Scottish circuit to set the fastest lap during a tense qualifying session.
The Northern Irishman will be further fuelled by the fact that his West Surrey Racing team currently stands on 99 BTCC race victories, having first entered the UK’s premier motorsport series back in 1996. WSR boasts a rich history in the sport and, being the squad’s most coveted star, the 39-year-old will be hoping for a century celebration tomorrow afternoon.
Oulton Park pole man Senna Proctor continued his rich vein of form in qualifying trim to take second, whilst his BTC Racing team-mate Josh Cook was fourth.
Chris Smiley left it until the final moments to reward his Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com squad as he blasted his way up to third – splitting the two BTC Racing Hondas in the process – to complete an impressive day for the 29-year-old.
The #22 Hyundai pilot was second-quickest in the opening practice session, before going one better in FP2, whilst his qualifying pace confirmed his top three status throughout Saturday.
MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square’s Jake Hill was just 0.002s slower than Cook, but the Kent driver will have been pleased to edge out championship leader Ash Sutton.
Laser Tools Racing returned with sixth and seventh places as Sutton topped team-mate Aiden Moffat, whilst Toyota Gazoo Racing UK’s Rory Butcher had to make do with eighth despite looking like a pole position contender earlier in the day.
Tom Ingram will be relatively satisfied with ninth on the grid, having admitted to struggling slightly in his ballast-laden Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com Hyundai.
Team BMW’s Tom Oliphant pipped Halfords Racing with Cataclean’s Gordon Shedden for the final place in the top ten, with the latter failing to find the ultimate pace in the second and third sectors of the lap.
Rounds 13, 14 and 15 of the 2021 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship will take place at Knockhill tomorrow (15 August) with a sizeable crowd expected to attend the favourite Fife circuit.
Those not in attendance can catch all of the action live on ITV4 from 11.15.
Colin Turkington said: “It’s really good to be back at the front of the grid – P1 is excellent. Knockhill is always a circuit I enjoy coming to and a great track for the BMW 3 Series. I thought we could be on the first couple of rows given I don’t have too much success ballast in the car, but again you just never know because everybody is always fast!
“Dick [Bennetts, Team Principal] said he would buy a bottle of champagne for whoever gets that 100th win, so that has my name all over it! It’s going to be tough; the gap was very small and I have a lot of very fast cars behind me. It’s not going to be an easy race, but I’m confident in the car and I think I can score good points tomorrow.”
Senna Proctor said: “When the opportunity came, I just got everything together and there was no traffic so it was good! I’m glad I got the lap in, but I know we’re stronger in the race than we are in qualifying. It’s looking good!
“I’ll try not to make a mess of the start like I did at Oulton Park, and I’ll try to have a better race day and get a couple of podiums tomorrow. We’ve done a few practice starts at shakedown this time. I’m sure Colin [Turkington] will be hard to beat off the line, but we’ll give it our best shot!”
Chris Smiley said: “It was that last lap that got it done. The traffic absolutely murdered us at the start! There were a couple of laps that were up a little bit more, but that’s just how it is around here, it’s one of those places that doesn’t forgive you if you get caught up by a car in front of you.
“The car feels awesome, it has done all day in both the wet and the dry. Qualifying in this championship definitely is key. We’ve been working hard on qualifying pace – I haven’t really shown it this year. I think I’ll put on a good show from P3.”
2021 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Knockhill
1 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW 50.836s
2 Senna PROCTOR(GBR) BTC Racing +0.117s
3 Chris SMILEY (GBR) Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com +0.168s
4 Josh COOK (GBR) BTC Racing +0.183s
5 Jake HILL (GBR) MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square +0.185s
6 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +0.199s
7 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +0.200s
8 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) Toyota Gazoo Racing UK +0.211s
9 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com +0.243s
10 Tom OLIPHANT (GBR) Team BMW +0.265s
11 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Racing with Cataclean +0.284s
12 Daniel LLOYD (GBR) Adrian Flux with Power Maxed Racing +0.351s
13 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport +0.409s
14 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team BMW +0.426s
15 Jason PLATO (GBR) Adrian Flux with Power Maxed Racing +0.437s
16 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport +0.459s
17 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square +0.513s
18 Jack GOFF (GBR) Team HARD. with Autobrite Direct +0.554s
19 Daniel ROWBOTTOM (GBR) Halfords Racing with Cataclean +0.651s
20 Sam OSBORNE (GBR) Racing with Wera & Photon Group +0.684s
21 Sam SMELT (GBR) Toyota Gazoo Racing UK +0.781s
22 Jade EDWARDS (GBR) PHSC with BTC Racing +0.832s
23 Árón TAYLOR-SMITH (IRL) Team HARD. with HUB Financial Solutions +0.850s
24 Paul RIVETT (GBR) Racing with Wera & Photon Group +0.893s
25 Carl BOARDLEY (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +0.927s
26 Jack MITCHELL (GBR) Team HARD. with Autobrite Direct +0.936s
27 Jack BUTEL (GBR) EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com +1.072s
28 Nicolas HAMILTON (GBR) ROKiT Racing with iQuoto Online Trading +1.305s
29 Rick PARFITT (GBR) EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com NO TIME