Team BMW are aiming to take the lead of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship this weekend as the series reaches its halfway point at the demanding Croft Circuit. Three wins so far in 2017 by Rob Collard and Colin Turkington have put Team BMW second in the BTCC Teams’ standings while BMW lead the Manufacturers’ points.
Hampshireman Rob Collard is the only driver to have finished on the podium at every BTCC race weekend this year and was victorious on his past two visits to Croft in 2015 and ‘16. He heads to North Yorkshire second in the Drivers’ Championship as the only driver to have scored points in every race, but will carry 66kg success ballast into the weekend, making his BMW the second-heaviest car in the field.
With 11 wins at Croft, Rob’s team-mate Colin has twice as many BTCC victories at the 2.1-mile circuit near Darlington as any other driver in the series. With 19 podiums – including his first in the BTCC, achieved with WSR in 2002 – five pole positions and nine fastest laps at Croft, he is set to be among the front-runners once more. Colin, who lies fourth in the BTCC points, has won twice in 2017 and heads to Croft with 48kg success ballast in his BMW.
WSR, who run the Team BMW 125i M Sports from their Sunbury-on-Thames headquarters, are the most successful team in BTCC history at Croft with 16 race wins, including a treble victory and a lock-out of the podium in 2015. The reigning Teams’ and Constructors’ Champions are also aiming for two landmarks of their own. Their next race win will be the team’s 75th in the BTCC and their 50th with BMW machinery.
The Croft triple-header on June 10-11 is the fifth 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.
Rob Collard said: “It’s been a very strong season so far and we’re second in the championship with a lot more points than at this stage of the 2016 season. I’m the only driver to score a podium at every event so far and we’ve tended to have two very good finishes each weekend, which has served us very well. It’s important to score big this weekend as Croft is a track where WSR have been very strong in the past and where I’ve won in each of the past two years, but we seem to be closer than ever before at the non-BMW circuits, so I genuinely think we can win anywhere.”
Colin Turkington said: “Croft has some very special memories for me, like my first podium in the BTCC and double wins in each of my title-winning seasons, and the BMW has traditionally been so good around here that I always enjoy coming back. Oulton Park didn’t quite go to plan, so it’s doubly important to score big points at Croft before we start going to the circuits that aren’t usually so good for us. Fourth is a strong place to be in the points and if we can score well, we’re pretty likely to be higher up by the end of the weekend.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “We’ve had a lot of success at Croft in the past with 16 wins and even a one-two-three finish in 2015, so it’s certainly a circuit at which we’ve been able to use the strengths of the BMW to the best possible effect. But that’s history and this weekend is now; and everybody at WSR will work extremely hard to make sure we can fight at the front. This year, with 32 cars on the grid, and a very competitive top-15 cars, it won’t be easy. Both Team BMW cars will carry a lot of success ballast, but if you’re going to fight for a championship, that’s the way it has to be and we’re used to it.”
BTCC Drivers’ Championship after 4/10 rounds
1. Gordon Shedden 157pts
2. Rob Collard 141
3. Tom Ingram 132
4. Colin Turkington 126
5. Matt Neal 124
1. Halfords Yuasa Racing 272
2. Team BMW 261
3. Adrian Flux Subaru Racing 128
1. BMW 330
2. Honda 322
3. Subaru 243