A storming victory for Colin Turkington and a podium finish for Tom Oliphant ensured an ultra-strong start to the British Touring Car Championship by Team BMW at Donington Park.
The Northern Irishman’s results on Sunday leave him with a six-point lead in the Drivers’ standings while WSR-run Team BMW head the Teams’ rankings and BMW are on top in the Manufacturers’ points table too.
Colin had begun the opening race of the season from pole position in his WSR-run BMW 330i M Sport and led initially before banking strong points for second place.
Jumping into the lead at the start of Race Two, the Northern Irishman kept a cool head when a late safety car reduced a four-second lead to nothing, and stormed to his 52nd career victory.
Starting 12th on the partially-reversed Race-Three grid, and carrying the maximum 60kg success ballast, the four-time champion bagged vital points for 10th place.
Having equalled his career-best qualifying result in fifth on Saturday, Tom had set his sights on a rostrum finish for raceday at the same track where he claimed his maiden BTCC top-three finish last year.
He achieved his aim in Race Two, pouncing on his nearest rival on the penultimate lap to snatch third place to add to the sixth spot he’d achieved earlier on.
Laden with 48kg success ballast in Race Three and starting 10th on the partially-reversed grid, he added a solid ninth place to leave Donington sixth in the Drivers’ Championship.
Colin Turkington said: “It’s great to start the season with a win, another podium and a strong haul of points overall. The BMW was sweet in Race Two so I could drive it hard but not work the tyres too hard in the early stages. We’ve done a lot of work on dialing the car in with weight on-board and that was one of the keys to winning that one. I’m really pleased with my performance and the points. The preparation, hard work and dedication of the whole team has been incredible this past few months, so this is a great way to start for all of us.”
Tom Oliphant said: “I’m pretty pleased to be leaving here sixth in the championship and only 14 points behind Colin. The highlight was obviously the podium in Race Two, which is great for me and WSR, who have worked really had to put me in this position. Starting Race Three with 48kg success ballast and on the fifth row, I knew it was going to be a bit of a bunfight and it was, but the BMW carries the weight really well and that’s been a big benefit. Brands Hatch next weekend should be even better.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “A very good day to end a very good weekend for Team BMW. We’ve had a win and both drivers on the podium and we’re leading in the Drivers’ Teams’ and Manufacturers’ Championships, which is exactly where we want to be. Both Colin and Tom did exactly what they needed to in Race Three with lots of ballast on-board. We tested a lot in pre-season with a heavy car to make sure we could get the set-up spot on and it’s paid off. Plus we’ve had six top-10 finishes and two ultra-reliable cars, which is another important fact with only a few days to go before we head to Brands Hatch. What this weekend has proven is that, once again, there are a lot of extremely competitive cars and drivers in the BTCC and we’ll have to be on our A game every weekend if we want to win it again.”