Article date: 23 September 2007
- Brands Hatch, World Touring Car Championship
On his debut Colin Turkington recorded superb third and fourth place finishes for Team RAC at the Brands Hatch rounds of the FIA World Touring Car Championship today (23 September).
Having set the third quickest time in qualifying (just six hundredths off pole position), Ulsterman Colin Turkington - a wild card entry in the championship - continued to cause a stir on the world stage by driving superbly in Round 17 to register a podium finish.
In the first rolling start of his career, Turkington held his own from the line and was only passed by SEAT driver Jordi Gene, who moved his diesel powered Leon up to third from eighth after the opening corner.
The introduction of the safety car for laps two and three, allowed Turkington to settle in fourth place closely followed by the SEAT of Yvan Muller.
Turkington was to hold off the threat of Muller on several occasions when normal racing was resumed, which also saw the Team RAC driver close on Gene after posting the fastest middle sector performance on lap eight.
Turkington's dream of a fairytale WTCC podium was to be realised on lap 15, when Gene allowed him through into third place - a decision which also saw Gene's team mate Muller to move ahead to fourth and record the maximum points possible for the Frenchman who was fourth in the driver's championship standings at the start of the day.
Colin Turkington said: "I'm absolutely delighted to record a podium finish for Team RAC on my debut in the World Touring Car Championship. It was a difficult race being sandwiched between the two SEAT's but the BMW is strong as we've shown at Brands Hatch this season in the British Touring Car Championship.
"The race was very fast and also extremely competitive. Jordi Gene got away from me at times but then I was also able to get closer but couldn't find the right opportunity to pass.
"I was expecting some team tactics from SEAT to let Muller through and was very happy when I did get past on the penultimate lap! To finish third is testament to the support and massive effort of everyone associated with Team RAC, and I'm just delighted to be here and competing against the best in the world."
Starting from seventh for the standing start reverse grid of race two, 25 year old Turkington continued to make an impact on the WTCC by moving up two places to lie in fifth place after Paddock Hill Bend.
In a mirror image of the day's previous race, Turkington found himself between the SEAT's of Jordi Gene (fourth) and Yvan Muller (sixth).
Two separate incidents meant the safety car was again put to use from the second lap, but on the restart Turkington was able to maintain his weekend speed and posted a fastest lap on lap seven.
As the race wore on he pulled away from the challenge of Yvan Muller and lap 14 saw him again being allowed past the SEAT of Gene at Surtees to claim fourth place.
With Rob Huff's Chevrolet in sight and the potential of another podium, Turkington set the fastest lap of the race (lap 15) but with only one further lap remaining he had to settle for fourth place, 0.22 of a second behind Huff, which sealed a remarkable debut appearance for the Team RAC driver in the World Touring Car Championship.
Colin Turkington said: "It's been a fabulous weekend for myself and Team RAC, and a special experience being the first time I've raced in the WTCC.
"The second race was pleasing as I made a good start and the car continued to show the speed we've had all weekend by posting the quickest lap of the race.
"This weekend was a perfect opportunity to gain knowledge and experience of the WTCC setup and drivers, and to claim a podium and a fourth place finish was an exceptional performance by Team RAC.
"Our appearance at Macau in November will be another challenge - a very different one - but my performance this weekend means we go there with plenty of confidence and determined to be competitive for Team Aviva."
Dick Bennetts, WSR team principal, added: "It's been a fantastic experience for everyone at Team RAC who all put in a great effort. I'm delighted for Colin as he's a tremendously talented young driver and he grasped the opportunity superbly.
"We learnt a great deal about the Yokohama tyres this weekend, which will put us in a good position for our next WTCC challenge when we travel to Macau later in the year for Team Aviva, where I'm sure Colin will put in another superb performance."
Shaun Meadows, marketing director, RAC, said: "It's been an amazing weekend for RAC, and testament to the expertise of Team RAC that we've been so competitive in our first races in the WTCC.
"It was a wonderful opportunity for Colin to develop his talent, and a natural opportunity for ourselves given the exposure of the championship, and we're delighted that Colin proved himself against the best in the world."
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