Colin Turkington cemented his status as the British Touring Car Championship’s King of Croft with a magnificent victory for BMW and WSR on Sunday to enhance his title hopes in North Yorkshire.
The Northern Irishman’s lights-to-flag success in the last race of the day was his third of the season, the 66th of his illustrious career and a record-extending 14th at the North-East track as the Team BMW driver moved up to third place in the Drivers’ points.
Having been randomly drawn on pole position on the partially-reversed grid he repeated his Race Three achievement at Oulton Park last time out in his BMW 330e M Sport and added to seventh and sixth-place finishes from earlier in the day.
His success was the fifth victory by a WSR-run BMW in 2023 and kept BMW on top in the Manufacturers’ Championship – which they are seeking to win for a record 10th time – as well as cementing Team BMW’s second spot in the Teams’ title race.
Team-mate Stephen Jelley achieved a milestone in Race One as he made his 250th BTCC start from a season’s-best ninth place on the grid.
The Leicester racer made up a position during the race and finish eighth; a result he bettered by one spot in Race Two. Unfortunately he was hit hard from behind and spun two corners into Race Three while lying fifth; sustaining race-ending damage to the rear of his BMW.
Contact with a Turn One tyre stack damaged Adam Morgan’s BMW after he’d climbed into the points in Race One; the Lancashire racer dropping back to 19th as a result.
Thirteenth in Race Two was a marked improvement, but a brake-fluid leak in Race Three led to an early unplanned pitstop, during which a bonnet catch broke. He retired soon after.
Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport’s Jake Hill was the highest-placed BMW driver in Race One in fifth place as he overtook Colin on the opening lap and survived race-long pressure to secure the result.
Spins in Races Two and three cost the Kent racer two more top-six results; Jake finishing 11th and eighth, but remaining in the hunt for the title in fourth place in the Drivers’ points.
Knockhill, Scotland, where Jake recorded a magnificent win and triple podium last year, is next on the BTCC calendar in two weeks’ time as the fight for the title continues to intensify.
Colin Turkington (Team BMW) said: “It’s such an important win and I really didn’t think it was on the cards. The first lap was the critical moment. I knew I had to keep Josh [Cook] and Tom [Ingram] behind me because they’re super-aggressive off the line. The track felt so slick on the green-flag lap I thought I was a gonner, but the safety car coming out for three or four laps helped me work the front tyres hard and get some grip into them. That’s two events on the bounce where we’ve won on the hard tyre so it looks like we’ve found a solution to what used to be our Achilles heel. It feels great to win again at Croft. I hadn’t won here much in the past five years so it’s good to set the record straight.”
Jake Hill (Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport) said: “It hasn’t been the day I’d hoped for. Croft isn’t a rear-wheel-drive track anymore and the situation we have with all the cars now is that we have to make our time in the corners, rather than on the straights. When that’s the case you push everything right to the limit just to stay somewhere near the front and you’re always at a greater risk of a mistake. That’s what happened today and I just ruined it for myself. Knockhill’s next and I hope we can use the memories of what we did last year to get ourselves back on track.”
Adam Morgan (Team BMW) said: “It’s been a day to forget. I don’t like this place and I’ve only rarely had a good result here. Three points isn’t a great return, but things just haven’t gone our way at any stage of the weekend. In the last race I had a brake issue so I pitted and then one of the bonnet catches broke. There was no point risking a broken windscreen or something. when I was already a lap down. I’m just going to forget about this one and focus on Knockhill.”
Stephen Jelley (Team BMW) said: “There’s been a lot of emotion today in reaching 250 races because there have been so many stories in that time, and lots of ups and downs, like this weekend. It’s been a pretty good raceday with two good top-10 results in Races One and Two. I didn’t get the luck with the reversed-grid draw, but we threw a big set-up ‘Hail Mary’ to try and get ahead of the Fords off the line, I got Ash [Sutton] and he’s just drilled me into Turn Two and ended his race and mine. I feel refreshed for the rest of the season.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “Of course it’s fantastic to see Colin back on the top step of the podium at Croft; an excellent reward for all the hard work the team’s put in with the BMWs on what’s been a pretty hard weekend. While we’re leaving Croft as winners and still lead the Manufacturers’ title race, we’ve had to be right on the limit here with our performance. The task continues to be how to extract the absolute maximum we can from the BMW for the rest of the season.”