Turkington delights at first title success

Article date: 4 October 2009

Colin Turkington clinched his maiden HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship title with a stunning display of sheer courage that has underpinned his 2009 season.

In a sensational day of classic touring car racing in front of a crowd in excess of 30,000 spectators, the Team RAC man sealed the title with a brave second finish in the last race of the season, staving off the challenge of nearest championship rivals Fabrizio Giovanardi and Jason Plato.

Turkington, who takes the title by five points from Plato, becomes the first man from Northern Ireland to lift the coveted trophy and also wins the Independents Trophy.

To cap a memorable day for Team RAC, the West Surrey Racing ran team were confirmed as Independents Team Trophy Champions for 2009, winning 348 points.

Stephen Jelley enjoyed mixed fortunes throughout the day but ended the 2009 season strongly, finishing sixth in the final race of the season to cement his seventh place spot in the overall Drivers Championship standings with 137 points.

Team-mate Anthony Reid claimed his first points of the season, achieving a hard-earned 10th place finish in the opening race and seventh in the final race of the season.

Round one
Colin Turkington edged a step closer to the overall drivers title after securing what was a vital three points as the Northern Irishman finished a respectable eighth. 

Despite qualifying 10th and carrying the maximum ballast of 45kg, Turkington started solidly to finish the opening lap in eighth place – a position he would not relinquish for the duration of the extended 18-lap race.

Anthony Reid took his first point of the 2009 BTCC season after finishing in tenth place. Having qualified in 16th, Reid passed Harry Vaulkhard and David Pinkney to conclude the opening lap in 12th. The 52-year-old used the remainder of the race to manouver his way into the points placings and bolster Team RAC’s team points tally.

In-form Stephen Jelley endured a testing race having qualified 11th on the grid. Jelley’s BMW320si encountered a voltage problem which seriously affected his steering. The Leicester-man, who was presented with a HiQ-sponsored Champagne Moment for his double success at Rockingham two weeks ago, initially made a positive start having moved into ninth, but the technical difficulty saw him ultimately finish 14th.

Round two
Colin Turkington drove one of the bravest races of his eight-year BTCC career to register his 13th podium of the season. 

Starting eighth on the grid, Turkington was involved in one of the moves of the season on lap 15 that saw him take advantage of a minor error by race leader Tom Chilton at Druids Hill Bend to overtake Rob Collard, Jonathan Adam and Chilton himself by Westfield.

The opening lap also saw the Championship leader crucially pass Matt Neal  to remove one obstacle in his ascent to the third position that proved decisive come the end of the season.

Stephen Jelley and Anthony Reid both finished out of the points positions. Jelley missed out on a point by 0.2 of a second to finish 11th while veteran Reid was eased onto the gravel by Mat Jackson at Surtees on the 14th lap of 17.

Round three
Turkington started the 30th and final race of the season in style as he passed four cars on the opening lap having started the reverse-grid in sixth place and despite carrying 27kg of success ballast. 

Having begun the race so well, the 27-year-old refused to succumb to serious pressure applied by title rival Fabrizio Giovanardi. In a nail-biting climax to the season, Turkington first held the lead then surrendered it to the Italian.

However, the man from Belfast ultimately held his nerve to over-take last year’s Champion once again and finish the race in second place behind Jason Plato.

Stephen Jelley and Anthony Reid both finished the season on a positive note with sixth and seventh place finishes respectively.

New BTCC Champion Colin Turkington said: “The third race was probably the greatest I have driven in my life. After the second race I felt so emotional, so it was a case of pulling my shoulders back and getting on with it having come so far.

“I probably got as much as I could out of the car in the first race with the success ballast, but I did well to get podium finishes in the last two rounds of the season. In the final race, I was in the worst position with [Vauxhall’s] Matt Neal and Fabrizio Giovanardi in front and behind but I had to be brave and not panic.”

Turkington added: “The team has done a magnificent job this season and I am so, so delighted with this trophy. It’s the one I have waited for all my life.”

Stephen Jelley said: “Today was all about one car – Colin’s car. The team have done so well to prepare for us drivers a car that is superb. In the third race of the day it was mega.

“I was frustrated with the technical problems I endured in the first race, but it all came together in the last race. I feel I am ready to aim even higher next season having broken my duck a few weeks ago at Rockingham.”

Team-mate Anthony Reid said: “Colin can now be considered one of the best touring car drivers of the modern era. This series is on a level with the World Touring Car Championship, but I do not believe that is even as tough as this.

“The strength in depth is fantastic and has been a real challenge. I have slowly been getting used to the car and I have been pleased with my overall performance this weekend.”

WSR Team Principal Dick Bennetts said: “Colin has really lifted his game this year and fully deserves the BTCC title. He has been a model of consistency this season and doesn’t panic when things don’t necessarily go his way. Make no mistake, this is a tough series to win.

“Like Colin, Stephen has also raised his level of performance this season. That display at Rockingham will live long in the memory.”

On Team RAC’s Independents Team Trophy success, Bennetts commented: “The team has been awesome, simply fantastic. We have had 100% reliability in all races and this has been the foundation for our season.”

Kerry Gazzard, RAC sponsorship & PR consultant, said: “On behalf of everyone at RAC, I would like to congratulate Colin on a fully-deserved first championship.

“I would also like to thank the thousands of fans who cheered Team RAC onto success today. It raised the spirits of the team and the atmosphere around Brands Hatch was electric.”

To keep up to date with all the latest news from Team RAC, log-on to www.teamrac.co.uk.

-ends-

For further information please contact:
Steve Stammers
Lexis Sport
Telephone: 0207 908 6439

Notes to editors:

About BTCC
The British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) was formed in 1958 and is Britain’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. Some 325,000 watch the BTCC trackside each year. www.btcc.net

About RAC – The Driving People
With around seven million members, RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organisations, providing services for both private and business motorists. Whether it's roadside assistance, vehicle inspections and checks, legal services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information - RAC is able to meet motorists’ needs. RAC incorporates RAC Insurance.

RAC is committed to providing the very highest levels of service to its members and has been ranked first for customer service by JD Power and Associates’ UK Roadside Assistance Study for the last three years.

RAC is part of Aviva, the world’s fifth largest insurance group which operates in 28 countries.

RAC’s news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at www.racnews.co.uk.

About HiQ
HiQ (part of Goodyear Dunlop) became 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.

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