The fastest circuit in the British Touring Car Championship is next on the schedule this weekend as WSR and BMW continue their push for the title at Thruxton.
The Hampshire speed bowl is the closest track to BMW UK’s Farnborough headquarters, meaning local support is guaranteed for Team BMW’s Colin Turkington, Adam Morgan and Stephen Jelley as well as Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport’s Jake Hill.
The quartet have scored eight podium finishes from 2023’s opening nine races using the BMW 330e M Sport with Colin a race winner at Brands Hatch in April.
A four-time race winner at Thruxton, Colin Turkington is third in the Drivers’ standings, 26 points away from the series lead with 67 available at each of the remaining seven meetings. He was second at Thruxton last year.
Teams’ Trophy winners at Snetterton, Team BMW climbed to second in the rankings while BMW were also the highest scorers in the Manufacturers’ Championship – which they are aiming to win for a record 10th time – and are now within three points of the lead.
Team BMW team-mate Stephen Jelley joined Colin on the podium last year for what was the best Thruxton result of his BTCC career. The Leicester racer did however score his maiden Formula 3 race win at the track against a field that included current F1 star Sergio Perez.
Following his triple top-six at Snetterton, he is relishing the challenge of Thruxton as he targets a climb from his current 12th place in the Drivers’ Championship.
Adam Morgan is one of the modern masters of Thruxton with five BTCC wins at the track – more than all but one of his 2023 BTCC rivals.
The Lancashire racer has won at Thruxton for the past two seasons in a WSR-built BMW and, following his biggest points haul of 2023 at Snetterton, is in fighting mood.
The same can be said of Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport’s Jake Hill, who has finished on the podium at Thruxton six times since 2021 and last year qualified on the front row and bagged a brace of runner-up finishes when the BTCC visited in May.
Kent-based Jake holds fifth spot in the Drivers’ Championship after twice finishing second at Snetterton and is eyeing his maiden win of the year as he attempts to elevate himself in the points table.
All the races will be broadcast live from 1155 on Sunday on ITV4 while qualifying will be screened live on the ITV Sport YouTube channel from 1515 on Saturday.
Qualifying will use the standard format at Thruxton, meaning the grid will be determined by a single 30-minute session.
The use of the series mandatory hybrid-electric power system is different in 2023 to create a greater reliance on strategy from drivers at the front of the field – who have had their access to the 30bhp boost reduced since last year.
At Thruxton, owing to championship positions, only Stephen will be able to deploy hybrid power once his BMW reaches 115kph. Adam, Jake and Colin must wait until 125, 130 and 135kph respectively.
Colin will have five seconds of hybrid power available on each qualifying lap with Jake entitled to 7s, Adam to 13s and Stephen to 15s.
In Race One Colin will be allowed to use hybrid on only three laps with Jake given four laps’ allowance. Adam has seven laps and Stephen eight. These amounts will be re-set for the rest of the day based on the finishing positions in Races One and Two.
Only a single tyre compound will be used at Thruxton with the hard Goodyear mandatory due to the high loads placed on the tyres through the succession of long, fast corners at the track.
WHAT THEY SAID…
Colin Turkington (Team BMW) said: “Brands Hatch and Snetterton were two good events that gave me a lot of points and four podiums, so the aim is to keep that momentum going. Thruxton is a big challenge on both the driving and engineering side, but I’m confident we can build on what we’ve learnt over the past few years and there is no reason why we can’t get the BMW back on the podium. We always have to work a bit harder at Thruxton to score big points, but the reversed-grid draw has been kind to me in the past, so the plan will be to aim as high as we possibly can and if we come away with more top-threes or a win, that would be a great result.”
Adam Morgan (Team BMW) said: “I’ve had some incredible weekends at Thruxton so I always head there thinking I can win and this weekend’s no exception. I’ve won in the BMW for the past two years so there’s every reason to think we can be up there again. I’ve closed the gap to Colin and Jake in terms of outright pace and this is the kind of track that’s usually suited me very well, so I’m confident of putting on a good show. Snetterton was my best weekend of the season points-wise, but I definitely want more and I think Thruxton is somewhere I can get it.”
Stephen Jelley (Team BMW) said: “Snetterton was a good, solid weekend. We were where we should be. There’s still some work to do, because there are other cars out there that are really quick and you can’t rest for a moment in the BTCC. There are fewer variables this weekend with everyone running the hard tyre for all three races, but I think we can have a good strong result. If the weather is warm, it’ll be fine, but it means you can’t move forward as much, so the hybrid could come into play a bit more. I had a podium at Thruxton last year, so it’ll be good to try and make that step up and get back to that sort of place.”
Jake Hill (Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport) said: “Heading to Thruxton this week, we are all extremely motivated to kick on and continue building on our positive start to 2023. Snetterton was our best weekend of the season so far and lays a great foundation for us to build on as we head into Round Four. The last few trips to Thruxton have been successful and I really enjoy the challenge of driving the circuit – it’s certainly not for the faint-hearted! The goal this weekend is to score as many points as possible and to cut the gap in the Drivers’ Championship.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “Snetterton was a very good weekend points-wise for all four drivers and in both the Teams’ and Manufacturers’ Championships, so it will be important to use that to establish some momentum into the middle section of the season at tracks where we’ve generally done well. Thruxton tends to favour front-wheel-drive cars, but we’ve bucked the trend a bit with the BMW 3 Series, which has won there for three of the past four years, so there’s every chance we can score strongly again. It’s certainly what we’re targeting at BMW UK’s home circuit.”