Colin Turkington, Tom Oliphant and Stephen Jelley race for Team BMW
BMW 330i M Sport the car of choice for the reigning champions
Team BMW’s push for a record-breaking sixth consecutive British Touring Car Championship title begins this weekend at Thruxton, the UK’s fastest circuit, with the manufacturer’s three-pronged attack ready to challenge for yet more silverware across the 2021 season.
Fresh from storming to a fifth consecutive BTCC Manufacturers’ crown in 2020 thanks to the efforts of the West Surrey Racing-run team, BMW could become the first marque in series’ history to win it six seasons in a row.
Last year’s Teams’ Championship-winning drivers Colin Turkington and Tom Oliphant will be joined by Stephen Jelley in an expanded three-driver line-up; they’ll be racing in the BMW 330i M Sport, which enters its third BTCC season.
The race car, which is based on the current 3 Series production model, has taken 17 race wins, 38 podium finishes and four championship titles since its race debut in 2019, making it the most successful car in the BTCC over the past two seasons.
As the only team in the series to feature three BTCC race winners in its driver line-up, Team BMW aims to be among the title contenders as the season progresses.
Northern Irishman Colin Turkington has a record-equalling four BTCC Drivers’ titles to his name and has never finished lower than second in the points since rejoining Team BMW in 2017.
Leamington Spa-based Tom Oliphant enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2020 as he scored his first series win at Brands Hatch and finished in a career-best sixth place in the standings.
Stephen Jelley, from Leicester, has raced a BMW 125i M Sport for the past three seasons and now moves into the primary BMW team, having previously driven for WSR in 2008-09, scoring his first two BTCC victories in that latter season.
Thruxton, which is the nearest circuit to BMW UK’s Farnborough headquarters, hosts the first of 10 BTCC events that will be held at eight venues the length and breadth of Great Britain.
Fans can watch the action unfold live from the comfort of their living room with every race broadcast on ITV4 in HD and streamed online (UK only) via the ITV Hub.
Colin Turkington said: “I can’t wait for the season to start. Although it’s been a challenging winter for everyone, I’ve used the time away to recharge the batteries and have really felt the benefit of one of the most complete pre-season programmes we’ve ever had with WSR and BMW. The target for all of us, and especially me, is to win the championship and that doesn’t change from year to year. There have been a couple of minor rule changes, and I think the success-ballast increase, in particular, means that consistently scoring points is going to be more critical than ever in terms of putting together a championship-winning season.”
Tom Oliphant said: “I’m really pleased with how the winter’s gone; we’ve certainly been able to work well on the car in testing and we’ve added to our knowledge of the BMW 3 Series quite a bit, which will definitely increase our options when it comes to deciding on race and qualifying set-ups. I feel ready to move up to the next level in the championship, and with the overall package we have, I’m confident I can challenge for the Drivers’ title and help BMW try to win a record-breaking sixth straight Manufacturers’ crown.”
Stephen Jelley said: “I’m really pumped up for the new season. There’s really been no transition phase with the BMW 3 Series; from the first test it was a step forward from the older car. It’s similar in many ways to the 1 Series I’ve raced for the past three years, but it’s better in every area; turn-in, braking, stability, everything. It fits like a glove. It’s a mega package and it gives me a lot of confidence for the season ahead. Having two top-drawer team-mates in Colin and Tom is really positive and we’ll all push each other to work better and better and drive faster and faster.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “When a new season is just around the corner, you feel that bit of extra adrenaline running through you, and 2021 is no different, especially since we’ve finished our pre-season testing. We’ve done quite a bit of running and maybe found some ways to make the BMWs even better, but we also know that the competition hasn’t been standing still, so we’ll have to keep pushing as hard as we can. I think our driver line-up is one of the strongest, if not the strongest on the grid and that will be extremely important as we try to help BMW win a record sixth straight Manufacturers’ title and push Colin, Tom and Stephen into the Drivers’ Championship fight.”