Article date: 6 May 2008
Team RAC endured a difficult day at Donington Park today (4 May) in the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship. Despite a tremendous effort from Colin Turkington and Stephen Jelley the circuit and the damp conditions were not conducive to the rear-wheel drive cars and the pair faced tough circumstances.
Turkington drove superbly during qualifying to secure third place on the grid, which was a marked improvement on his sixth place qualification last season. However luck was not on his side as delayed starts and unpredictable weather meant he had to battle to secure points for Team RAC.
On his home circuit, Jelley began the day from 11th on the grid and drove brilliantly to get up to fifth place. He was on course to secure his best finish of the season so far, but a coming together on the final lap put him out of the race.
After rounds seven, eight and nine Turkington is 10th in the BTCC Championship Drivers standings with 33 points, while Stephen Jelley is 17th with one point.
There was no shortage of action in the first race of the day at Donington Park. The eventful race was initially delayed by a technical glitch in the circuit's starting lights and then two safety car periods.
Turkington began from third place on the grid but was handed a drive through penalty after an alleged jump start. This resulted in the Northern Irishman dropping back to 20th. Turkington made a tremendous effort to improve on this position and drove well to complete the race in ninth position, adding three points to his season's tally.
Team-mate Jelley started the race in 11th place and a great performance saw the Leicester-born driver move up to tenth before skillfully avoiding a collision between Chilton and Jackson on ap ten. Superb driving from the 25-year old saw him move up into sixth place until an incident with Steven Kane on the final lap sent him off the track, which unfortunately meant that he eventually finished in 19th place.
Team RAC faced a tough challenge in the second race of the day due to difficult weather conditions.
Turkington began the race from ninth on the grid. As rain began to fall Team RAC took the decision on lap three to switch to wet tyres. A quick stop meant Turkington lost little time and looked to be in good shape. However unfortunately the rain stopped. He eventually finished in 13th place.
Jelley failed to start the race after a technical problem on the green flag lap, so he retired to the pits.
The third and final race of the day was another tough call for Team RAC with both drivers facing similar difficulties to all the rear-wheel drive cars on the grid.
As they were on the grid the teams faced the problem of deciding which tyres to use in the unpredictable weather conditions.
Turkington started in 13th place, with wet tyres. A tremendous start saw him threaten for a podium place as he gained six places to move into seventh place by the third lap. However, luck was not on Team RAC's side as again the rain stopped and the track dried out. As a result he slowly dropped back to finish12th.
Jelley began the final race from the back of the grid but a superb start saw him move into 10th place early in the race. In the wet conditions he looked as if he would continue to move up the order but as with Turkington the dry track made it tough to keep pace. However some solid driving meant he managed to finish in 13th position.
Colin Turkington said: "It has been a difficult day for Team RAC. I qualified very well yesterday but today I have been unlucky. I didn't start race one as well as I would have liked and the weather conditions made it extremely difficult. I am bitterly disappointed as Donington is one of my favourite circuits but I'm confident that I can improve at Thruxton."
Stephen Jelley added: "In the first race it was looking great for Team RAC and the car was extremely fast on the dry track. I was fighting for fifth place but unfortunately slipped up on the final lap. I felt that in the third race I did as well as I could in the testing weather conditions."
WSR Team Principal Dick Bennetts said: "It has been a difficult day for Team RAC. Colin drove superbly yesterday to comfortably qualify in third place, which was a real improvement on last year's sixth position. Unfortunately the British weather did not play into our hands again today and we didn't get the results we deserved, but we look forward to summer and to an improvement at Thruxton."
RAC continued its season long promotion to win a BMW. Fans can go online at teamrac.co.uk for a chance to win a car and a host of other top prizes.
Caroline Mayers, RAC Marketing Manager, commented: "Team RAC are always delighted to come to Donington Park. The fans are always great for us and I hope they enjoyed the day of racing despite the drizzly conditions. I wish everyone who has taken part in our season-long ompetition to win a BMW the best of luck."
The BTCC action now moves to Thruxton on Sunday 18 May.
The British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) was formed in 1958 and is the UK's most popular motor racing spectacle. Its race season comprises ten events at top circuits across the UK. It is contested by professional racing drivers in competition versions of every day road cars, giving it tremendous public appeal. Around 300,000 watch the BTCC trackside each year. www.btcc.net
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.
HiQ (part of Goodyear Dunlop) has become the BTCC's new title sponsor in 2008 in a new three-year agreement. It provides a fast-fit car care service at its 150 centres across the UK. In the next two years, that number will rise to 250 as HiQ embarks on revolutionising the fast-fit industry. It has already taken the lead by offering a unique online service www.hiqonline.co.uk for motorists to buy tyres and arrange a fitting appointment.
For further information please contact:
Lexis Sport - 07966 077572 / 0207 908 6488