Team BMW are chasing another landmark result as the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship moves on to Oulton Park this weekend. Having claimed an historic 100th BTCC victory for BMW at Thruxton last time out, the Teams’ and Manufacturers’ Championship leaders have their sights set on a milestone of their own at the picturesque Cheshire circuit.
Sunbury-on-Thames-based WSR, who run the Team BMW 125i M Sports of Colin Turkington and Rob Collard, have won 48 times in the series with the German manufacturer’s cars and taken 148 podium finishes. Having reached the podium at the picturesque Oulton Park for each of the past 10 seasons, targets are high for the reigning Champion Team and Constructor to reach a pair of hugely significant numbers.
Northern Irishman Colin has won twice already in 2017 and lies third in the Drivers’ Championship ahead of the trip to his favourite UK circuit. Colin has won seven times at Oulton and claimed dominant double wins in 2009 and ’14; his two BTCC title-winning seasons with WSR, but must attempt to do so again with 57kg of success ballast.
Team-mate Rob, whose car carries 48kg of ballast, is on a high after his first win of the season at Thruxton promoted him to fourth place in the standings. Not only was Oulton Park the circuit at which he claimed the BTCC Independents’ crown in 2003, it was also the venue for an astonishing pair of drives last year in which the Hampshireman defied bad luck to overtake 41 cars and set himself up for the year’s Dunlop #ForeverForward prize.
The Oulton triple-header on May 20-21 is the fourth of 10 events in this year’s BTCC, which takes in nine circuits the length and breadth of the country. Each race will be screened live and exclusively on ITV4 in HD.
Colin Turkington said: “Oulton Park is my favourite circuit on the BTCC calendar by some distance. The track is just amazing and one where a driver is much more capable of making a difference than at other places, simply because of the challenge of some of the quicker corners. Because it’s so close to Northern Ireland, I do tend to have more friends and fans coming to this event than any other. The season has started incredibly well for me and the whole team so the aim is to keep this up and hopefully get a third win of the season to continue our championship push.”
Rob Collard said: “It was great to score my first win of the year at Thruxton, keep up my record of having been on the podium at every round so far, and improve my position in the fight for the championship. Oulton has usually been a very good circuit for rear-wheel-drive cars and I’m aiming to take advantage of that this weekend. Last year we had an absolutely sensational car in race conditions and I was able to overtake at pretty much any corner, but it was also frustrating that we had some bad luck that kept setting us back every time we made forward progress. I’m feeling very positive.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “The mid-season events at Oulton Park and Croft, which have traditionally suited our rear-wheel-drive BMWs, have been where our title challenges have typically kick-started in previous years. It’s a little different this time as we arrive in Cheshire leading the Teams’ and Manufacturers’ points, which is a testament to the strength of the BMW 125i M Sport and the job that the entire team have done this year. However this season is proving to be an incredibly competitive one, so we just have to keep our heads down and continue to work hard at it. The aim is, as ever, to fight for wins and podiums and score every point we possibly can before we head back to the tracks that favour the front-wheel-drive cars later in the year.”
About West Surrey Racing
Founded by New Zealander Dick Bennetts in 1981, West Surrey Racing are one of Europe’s most successful racing teams, having tasted success with World Champion drivers such as Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen, Tom Kristensen, Nigel Mansell, Allan McNish and Andy Priaulx. After becoming the most successful team in the British Formula 3 Championship during the 1980s, WSR moved into the British Touring Car Championship and have continued their extraordinary run of success. As well as running race-winning factory BTCC programmes for Ford, Honda and MG, WSR have taken five outright championship titles, nine independents’ crowns and 73 race victories. They are also race winners in the FIA World Touring Car Championship. Based in Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey, WSR currently contest the BTCC with the BMW 125i M Sport.
About BMW UK
BMW Group UK is the sales, marketing and aftersales subsidiary of BMW AG. Headquartered in Farnborough, Hampshire, BMW Group UK is responsible for importing BMW vehicles into the UK and supplying them for sale through its independent Retailer network. BMW Group UK also has responsibility for all national marketing, advertising and aftersales activities for the BMW and MINI brands. Established in 1980, BMW Group UK currently employs around 500 associates.