BMW and WSR head north this weekend determined to enhance their challenge for the British Touring Car Championship title at Oulton Park.
The 15-time series-winners surged into the lead of the Manufacturers’ Championship last time out at Thruxton courtesy of a double-podium finish for ROKiT MB Motorsport driver Jake Hill and another for Team BMW’s Colin Turkington.
And with the UK’s leading motor racing series approaching the fourth of its 10 events in 2022, both Colin and Jake are determined to take over at the head of the Drivers’ standings too at a track that has provided plenty of success for BMW & WSR previously.
Fifteen wins and 44 podiums – including an incredible lock-out of the top three positions in 2018 – makes the 2.3-mile Cheshire parkland circuit one of the happiest hunting grounds for WSR-run cars in the BTCC.
Nine of those wins have come from Northern Irishman Colin, who scored doubles at Oulton in 2009, ‘14 and ‘19 – three of his record-equalling four title-winning seasons.
With podium finishes at each of the first three events of 2022 aboard his BMW 330e M Sport – including a win at Brands Hatch – Colin arrives at Oulton third in the Drivers’ points and eager to chase down the leader.
Jake, from Kent, has a win and three further rostrums to his name this year and sits fifth in the points following a pair of second-place finishes at Thruxton
The ROKiT MB Motorsport racer was a podium finisher at Oulton in 2020 and has scored consistently highly at each of the three events held so far to rack more points at this stage of the season than at any point in his BTCC career previously.
Team BMW’s Stephen Jelley has happy memories of Oulton Park as it was the scene of a BTCC victory in 2019 and also where he scored his first podium finish since returning to the WSR family last year.
The Leicester racer has shown promising speed during the opening portion of the season and has qualified inside the top 10 at the first three events – something he’s never done before in his BTCC career.
But poor luck on racedays has limited his points-scoring opportunities; something he’s looking to put right in a big way this weekend.
Every car on the BTCC grid is, for the first time, fitted with a spec hybrid system from Cosworth in 2022.
A 48-volt battery is located on the floor of the car in place of the ballast box. An inverter, Motor Generator Unit (MGU) and two cooling systems comprise the Hybrid element, which is powered by the car’s Electronic Control Unit (ECU).
A driver can choose to deploy the energy via a button on the steering wheel, providing up to 30+ extra horsepower for a maximum of 15 seconds per lap during races. Energy created by braking is fed back to the battery, recharging it for the next use.
Deployment is only allowed at speeds of 75mph or higher and cannot be used on either the first lap of a race or on the first lap after a safety-car restart. An attempt to use the system in either of these scenarios will result in a two-second lockout.
In place of success ballast, the top 10 drivers in the championship points will have their hybrid use reduced on a sliding scale of 1.5 seconds per lap, from 10th down to first.
This means that while drivers in 11th place and lower will have access to the full 15s per lap, the driver in 10th will have 13.5s, the driver in ninth will have 12s and the number will continue to fall all the way to the series leader, who will have none.
At Oulton Park, Colin will have three seconds of hybrid available on each qualifying lap due to his third place in the Drivers’ points. Jake will have 6s while Stephen will have the full allocation of 15s.
Rather than reducing the amount of hybrid energy available to each driver, the races will instead feature a decreased number of laps on which the top drivers can use it; that specific number being determined by championship positions.
The current points leader will not be allowed to use hybrid power for 10 of the scheduled 15 laps in Race One at Oulton Park while the second-place driver will be without it for nine. Colin and Jake will have eight and six laps of hybrid use denied respectively while Stephen will be allowed the full allocation.
Hybrid limits per driver will change for Races Two and Three based on the finishing order of the previous race. Drivers outside the top 10 will have hybrid power available to them on every lap.
How it works at Oulton Park
The cars currently holding positions 1-10 in the Drivers’ Championship must complete the relevant number of laps in Race One without the use of hybrid. This is re-set for Race Two based on the Race One finishing order and then re-set again for Race Three based on the Race Two finishing order.
1st – 0 seconds
2nd – 1.5s
3rd – 3s
4th – 4.5s
5th – 6s
6th – 7.5s
7th – 9s
8th – 10.5s
9th – 12s
10th – 13.5
11th and down – 15s
1st – 10 laps
2nd – 9
3rd – 8
4th – 7
5th – 6
6th – 5
7th – 4
8th – 3
9th – 2
10th – 1
11th and down – 0
More ITV live coverage for BTCC
For the second time in 2022, the BTCC will feature live on ITV’s flagship channel on race day, exposing millions of new viewers to the excitement the series can bring to a Sunday afternoon.
The broadcast will start at 1210 and feature live coverage of Races One and Two. Coverage will switch to its traditional home on ITV4 at 1510, where you can watch Race Three.
Colin Turkington, Team BMW, said: “I’m looking forward to getting out on track this weekend and I’m hopeful we can deliver like we have in the past. Oulton is a technical circuit for the driver, but a track I’ve been able to tune into, find the flow and extract the maximum from my BMW. The high-speed corners and elevation changes are standout characteristics of Oulton Park. I think this will bring the quantity of hybrid deployment into play more than at Thruxton. Everyone is keen to shine and there’ll be no holding back. I only have a little bit of hybrid to play with for qualifying. Three seconds is not a lot, but I’d rather have three seconds than none. The next four circuits are certainly four of my favourites, and it’s important I draw on that to find even just a little bit more than the others.”
Stephen Jelley, Team BMW, said: “Oulton is my favourite track in the UK. I’ve won there in almost every category that I’ve raced in and one of the highlights of my career was winning there in the BTCC in 2019. With that success in the past and the fact that the BMW 330e M Sport is performing very well this year, it should be a real high point in the season. I’ll be looking to turn things around – and I don’t mean by getting hit in the backside again! The characteristics of the circuit suit me and the car. It’s a place that I enjoy going to, so hopefully we can perform on a track that I like to drive. Qualifying is massively important at Oulton because it’s very hard to overtake – especially now with the times being so close.”
Jake Hill, ROKiT MB Motorsport, said: “Oulton Park is always a highlight of the season and one of my personal favourites. The WSR BMWs have had strong results here before so I’m feeling very confident that we can have a successful weekend and score plenty of points for ROKiT MB Motorsport. Last weekend I had the chance to race a BMW Touring Car of a very different kind – a 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL – racing at Dijon in France which was incredible – but now I’m looking forward to getting back in my BMW 330e M Sport for round four of the BTCC.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “Thruxton was exactly what we needed in terms of getting a good amount of points for Colin and Jake at a track that isn’t typically one that’s suited us. Oulton Park traditionally has been good for the BMWs and we’ve had a lot of wins and podiums here. As we learn more and more about the hybrid system, we’re getting nearer to working out the optimal way to use it, but there’s still a huge amount to learn whenever we go to a track that we haven’t used it at before, like Oulton. I’m confident that if we all work hard as a team, all three WSR cars will be fast here. The aim will be to turn performance into more big points on Sunday.”