Article date: 22 April 2007
Team RAC drivers Colin Turkington and Tom Onslow-Cole had a day of mixed fortunes in the second round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Rockingham today (22 April).
After a four year absence for the BTCC from Rockingham, Team RAC were left frustrated in the search for championship points at the Northamptonshire circuit.
After races five, six and seven Colin Turkington lies sixth in the drivers championship with 29 points and Tom Onslow-Cole is just behind in joint seventh with 26 points. Jason Plato (SEAT Sport UK) leads with 74 points.
Colin Turkington started the race at the back of the grid after his car failed to restart after a weight check. A positive start from the Irishman saw him move up from 25th to 13th position within the first lap. By lap nine he was into the top 10 when he moved past Gareth Howell at turn two, and later passed team-mate Onslow-Cole to finish in seventh place.
Onslow-Cole started sixth on the grid after Darren Turner failed to start his SEAT. The young driver had a difficult first few laps in the BMW, dropping down to tenth by the third lap. He later recovered to climb back up the order to finish behind his team-mate Colin Turkington in eighth position.
Fabrizio Giovanardi and Tom Chilton gave Vauxhall a 1-2 finish.
Colin Turkington said: "The race went very well considering I started at the back and ended up finishing in seventh. I was able to get a good start in the car and show what it is capable of away from the grid."
There was no shortage of action in the second race of the day which saw just 12 cars running the flag. Early in the first lap a collision with Matt Neal's Honda Civic saw Colin Turkington's BMW slide into the gravel with damaged suspension. Although a bitterly disappointing result for Turkington, team-mate Tom Onslow-Cole went on to record his best result of his BTCC career so far with a second placed finish.
The eventful first lap saw the safety car come out early and on the restart Tom Onslow-Cole began in third place behind Giovanardi and Tom Chilton. He remained in third until late in the race when after a number of attempts he finally passed Tom Chilton on lap 17. Although Chilton briefly made it back into second Onslow-Cole passed him again to finish ahead of the Vauxhall driver and behind Giovanardi.
Tom Onslow-Cole said: "I'm ecstatic with the result. Looking back it's quite a blur. In third place I was happy to be in a position to get on the podium but when I realised that it was possible to move into second the racing driver in me came out. I tried a few moves to get past Chilton that didn't come off but I kept going and made the eventual move to take me into second place."
The last race of the day proved to be a disappointing one for Team RAC with Tom Onslow-Cole and Colin Turkington being forced to retire on laps three and 10 respectively due to debris being thrown up by cars ahead and causing overheating.
Onslow-Cole, fresh from his podium finish, was running in fifth position and Turkington, having another superb start which saw him progress quickly up the field from 18th position, retired whilst in eighth place.
Tom Onslow-Cole said: "I am obviously disappointed with the final race of the day but overall I'm thrilled with my performance. My result in the second race far surpassed my expectations and I will go home very happy."
Dick Bennetts, WSR team principal, commented: "It has been a frustrating weekend overall for Team RAC. Whilst being delighted for Tom and his second placed finish, we are still not where we want to be in the teams and drivers championship standings. Although we have shown the potential of the new car in the opening six races and we're confident we can make progress ahead of the next round in two week time."
Team RAC now lead the Independents Team Championship with 67 points, and sit fourth in the Overall Teams Championship with 54 points.
The BTCC action now moves to Thruxton on Sunday 6 May.
RAC were able to unveil the latest stage of their "RAC to the rescue" campaign, which provides benefits to enhance the race day experience of fans at all 10 rounds of the season.
After a four year absence from the BTCC for Rockingham, RAC came to the rescue of fans attending the circuit by offering them the chance to win state of the art RAC Sat Navs in media promotions, giving them a trouble free journey.
Alastair Pegg, director of RAC marketing, said: "We're delighted that our investment in Tom, as a young driver with huge potential, has come to fruition with a podium finish in only his fifth race in the British Touring Car Championship.
"The fans are also so important to the championship and certainly came out in their thousands to experience the impressive facilities at Rockingham.
"RAC are committed to giving them a weekend to remember both on and off the track, which we were able to do thanks to Tom's podium finish and the latest stage of our 'RAC to the Rescue' campaign.
"We have many exciting initiatives planned for every round of the 2007 BTCC so supporters should log onto teamrac.co.uk, look out in the media and at the rounds themselves for details of our activity and how they can take part."
Fans can keep up to speed with the latest from Team RAC by visiting http://www.teamrac.co.uk/.
For further information please contact:
Lexis Sport - 07966 077572 / 0207 908 6488
Notes to editors:
The championship is firmly established not only as one of Britain's most popular form of motor racing but also as one of the UK's top sporting attractions. Over the past decade, action-packed BTCC race meetings have repeatedly drawn crowds on a par with Premiership football matches and Test Match cricket, with over 200,000 loyal spectators and over 20 million terrestrial television viewers.
RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organisations and a provider for both private and business motorists. Whether it's roadside assistance, windscreen repair and replacement, learning to drive, vehicle inspections, legal and financial services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information - RAC is able to meet motorists' needs.
Aviva bought RAC in May 2005. The acquisition brings together RAC's powerful brand and customer base with the expertise and leading position in motor insurance of Norwich Union Insurance (part of Aviva). Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer, insuring one in seven motor vehicles and with a market share of around 15%.