A battling second-place finish helped Colin Turkington increase his British Touring Car Championship advantage on a chaotic day of racing at Silverstone.
The Northern Irishman staged a remarkable fightback from 14th on the Race-Two grid in his WSR-run BMW 330i M Sport to carve through the field and record his eighth podium finish of the year in a race that was cut short of its intended distance due to the onset of rain.
More rain followed in the early stages of Race Three; Colin pitting for wet tyres during a safety-car period and emerging in 25th spot; from which he rebounded magnificently to finish seventh.
Earlier in the day, the reigning champion, who is searching a record-equalling fourth BTCC crown, had finished 14th in the opener after being spun down to 25th by a rival driver during the first half of the race.
His results mean he leaves Silverstone with a 16-point advantage over his nearest rival in the championship; five more than he began the day with.
Team-mate Tom Oliphant; the fastest Team BMW driver in qualifying, started the opening race from fifth spot and finished there too after a strong drive.
Despite carrying 30kg success ballast into Race Two, the Leamington Spa-based driver made storming progress in Race Two and fought his way up to the lead by half-distance, at which point the appearance of the safety car reduced his advantage to nothing.
With the light rain that had plagued the race intensifying at this point, and Tom using the medium-compound Dunlop tyres that were unfavourable in the conditions, he was powerless to prevent those on soft rubber – who were more easily able to generate temperature and grip in the conditions – from passing.
He finished that race in seventh and then put on one of the drives of his career after electing to pit for wet tyres when the rain fell in Race Three. Falling to 21st as a result, he battled back to fourth place.
Not only was Tom the third-highest points-scorer of the weekend, he was also the leading Jack Sears Trophy competitor in each of the three races, meaning he was awarded the trophy for the round on the end-of-day podium.
With four consecutive maximum scores to his name, he is now just 10 points away from the JST lead with 60 points up for grabs at the season finale.
The combined efforts of Colin and Tom made Team BMW the top-scoring team of the weekend to significantly close on the lead of the Teams’ Championship. They are just 20 points away from the top spot with 111 available at Brands Hatch on October 12-13.
Colin Turkington said: “I’m very pleased to leave with a bigger lead than I came here with. When you get hit with this kind of variable weather, you know anything can happen, but we worked extremely hard together as a team to try and make sure we had what we needed to just keep getting the results. With the weight out of the car for Race Two, the BMW was an absolute weapon, but I had to pull myself together to get that podium. I know this means I’ll have to carry maximum success ballast to Brands Hatch, but I’d always rather have the points in the bag. It’s going to be a very interesting finale.”
Tom Oliphant said: “It’s been a very strong raceday, and a very strong weekend. We’ve had a quick car in all conditions and scored a lot of points. I was disappointed not to get the win in Race Two. I’d made it to the front and then the conditions got a lot worse during the safety car, so I thought there was a chance it might get red-flagged at that point. It didn’t happen and on the hard tyre in those conditions, I just had to concentrate on keeping the car on the road. We made a great call to pit under the safety car for wets in Race Three and to come from outside the top 20 to fourth is a result everyone deserved. Then there’s the added bonus of winning the Jack Sears Trophy in all three races, so that championship is all to play for at Brands Hatch now.
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “We knew today was going to be tough, but actually nobody in the title fight has really had a huge points total this weekend, so it’s been a great effort from everybody in difficult conditions to be the top-scoring team here. Colin’s a class act and he showed that on-track today in all three races and Tom’s been consistently one of the fastest drivers in all conditions. We’ve extended BMW’s lead in the Manufacturers’ Championship and closed in on the Teams’ Championship lead too, so I’m pleased with the effort everyone’s made. Now to do it all again at Brands Hatch and hopefully come away with the championship.”