BMW made it back-to-back Manufacturers’ titles in the British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch yesterday (13 October), as Colin Turkington clinched a record-equalling fourth Drivers’ crown in the most dramatic fashion possible.
Turkington arrived at Brands’ legendary GP circuit – home to Formula 1’s British Grand Prix on 12 occasions between 1964 and 1986 – holding a 16-point lead in the pursuit of the most coveted prize in UK motorsport.
That margin was eroded, however, when intensifying rain over the second half of race one restricted the Northern Irishman to a fighting fifth-place finish. Having qualified on pole position for the third time in 2019, he led early on, but was ultimately powerless to withstand the attack of rivals who had pitted to switch over to wet-weather tyres during an early safety car period.
Turkington’s advantage was overturned altogether in race two, when a tag from another driver sent the Team BMW man into a spin and tumbling down to the tail of the order.
That left him eight points shy of the lead going into the eagerly anticipated finale, and with it all to do from 25th on the grid. A scintillating charge through the field secured sixth at the chequered flag – and with it, a supremely hard-earned fourth championship title.
BMW Pirtek Racing’s Andrew Jordan was similarly in the mix heading into the weekend, sitting 17 points adrift of the summit of the standings. He had reduced that deficit to just two points by the end of race three, courtesy of an eighth, second and fourth-place finish, as the 30-year-old came tantalisingly close to adding to his 2013 championship success.
The runner-up spot in the Drivers’ table was ultimately Jordan’s reward for a season in which he won more races than anybody else behind the wheel of BMW’s all-conquering new 330i M Sport.
Tom Oliphant concluded his maiden campaign with Team BMW with a sensational drive from 30th to a top ten finish in the finale. The 29-year-old proved his pace with fastest lap in race one despite the mixed conditions, before finding himself removed from contention on the opening lap of race two through no fault of his own – a setback that paved the way for his soaring charge in race three.
The results confirmed BMW’s sixth BTCC Manufacturers’ title, with Team BMW finishing second in the Teams’ classification and BMW Pirtek Racing sixth.
Colin Turkington commented “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get close to Andy Rouse’s record [of four titles] – that’s amazing and very special. This has been my hardest championship yet by a long shot – to win it two laps from the end of the season is completely different to the other ones.
“It was the race of my life. My engineer told me that Dan [Cammish] was out, but I couldn’t see where Andrew [Jordan] was so I wasn’t sure if it was enough. I was in shock when I crossed the finish line and was told I was champion.”
The Northern Irishman continued “It was just pure elation – nothing else in life gives you that feeling. I really do feel for both Andrew and Dan – it’s a bitter pill to swallow. You put in a full year’s work to try to win this, and I honestly thought it had got away from me after race two.
“Whenever you think you are out of it, though, there’s always a tiny little part of you that keeps believing, and we won this through hard work, grit and sheer determination” exclaimed the Portadown driver.