Colin Turkington and Jack Young lead into this weekend’s BTCC and Clio Cup deciders aiming to complete a hat-trick of championships with already crowned Porsche Carrera Cup winner Dan Harper.
This weekend could be one of the most successful in the history of Irish motorsport as local drivers Colin Turkinton and Jack Young strive to join Dan Harper in together winning three of the most prestigious championships in British motorsport. Harper has already been crowned the Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion and Turkinton could clinch the British Touring Car Championship and Young, the Renault UK Clio Cup in the final races of the season over the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit.
While both hold slender leads in their respective championships it won’t be easy for either who will require all the speed, skill, tenacity and grit they have shown all season, and probably the rub of the green in some of those tight situations that always arise in top quality saloon car racing.
Any one of five drivers could win the BTCC but realistically it comes down to Turkington, his West Surrey Racing and BMW teammate Andrew Jordan and Honda’s Dan Cammish, with Josh Cook, also in a Honda and Toyota driver Tom Ingram waiting in the wings should a major catastrophe take out the top three.
Turkington and Jordan have benefitted having what everyone agrees is the class car of 2019 at their disposal, the BMW 330i M Sport. Between them, they have notched up a record 11 race wins with Turkinton leading the championship since the Thruxton weekend of the championship in May.
But since the summer break, the Honda Civics, spearheaded by Cammish, have found the pace to challenge the West Surrey drivers and their BMWs. That has coincided with Turkington failing to score points in several races due to the actions of others. Consequently, his championship lead was slashed from a mid-season high of 40 points to just 4 following the opening race of the last round at Silverstone. However, having bagged good points in races 2 and 3 Turkington goes to Brands and the final three races ahead of Cammish by 16 and Jordan a further point behind.
With 67 points on the table the championship winning permutations are endless. All three have quality cars and all three have the experience of how to win major championships, Turkington and Jordan in the BTCC and Cammish in the Porsche Carrera Cup.
My money is going on Turkington. He has sixteen points in the bag on the other two. That puts enormous pressure on him to retain his lead; it’s always easier to play catch up; but his drives in the last rounds at Silverstone were outstanding. In race one he was tapped into a spin and dropped to all but last. With a combination of skill and ‘never give up’ attitude he climbed 11 places back into the points and more importantly a reasonable grid position for race two where a stunning drive from 14th to 2nd included the fastest lap. That was followed by a calculated drive to 7th in the tricky conditions of the final race meaning Turkington actually extended his championship lead over the weekend despite almost losing it in the first race.
Those three races showed the quality of the reigning champion and set the standard his rivals must better at Brands if they are to take his title. But…this is the BTCC and anything can happen and to quote Murray Walker, ‘probably will’.
At the other end of the experience scale is the Renault UK Clio Cup. Jack Young and Max Coates have fought wing mirror to door handle all season and despite just starting out on their driving careers have provided an amazing display of stunning talent. The championship lead has seesawed from race to race with neither ever gaining a winning advantage in the equally matched machinery.
But, just like his mentor Colin Turkington, Young’s drive last time out at Silverstone showed his championship potential. He turned a fourth place finish in the first race into a win in race two with a mature and controlled drive that netted a 15 point championship lead to take to Brands decider.
So, all eyes now turn to Brands Hatch this weekend with live coverage on ITV4 all day Sunday, 13 October. Colin Turkington bids to become a touring car legend with a 4th BTCC title, Jack Young aims to become the youngest ever driver to claim the Renault UK Clio Cup. Added to Dan Harper being the youngest ever winner of the Porsche Carrera Cup UK and elsewhere, Charlie Eastwood winning his class in the Blancpain Endurance Cup and Jonathan Rea winning the World Superbike title for the fifth time, this weekend sees the culmination of what has already been an amazing season for Irish motorsport.