Ulsterman Colin Turkington admits his decision to remain with BMW and West Surrey Racing for the 2022 British Touring Car season was one of the most straightforward he has had to make.
All of Turkington’s four drivers’ crowns have been achieved with the British squad’s backing using cars supplied by the German marque, the most recent in 2019 in a 330i M Sport saloon. His first was achieved back in 2009 with a second and third trophy following in 2014 and 2018 respectively.
This is his eleventh BTCC season in a BMW and his fifteenth campaign with West Surrey Racing and the father-of-two believes he has all the tools he needs to clinch a fifth title. If successful, the 39-year-old would become the most decorated driver in the history of the national Championship.
“There is nowhere I would rather be. West Surrey Racing has been like a family to me since I made my BTCC debut twenty years ago,” he said, “and the opportunity to represent BMW – the greatest manufacturer in the history of touring car racing worldwide – is something that makes me extremely proud. We have had a highly-successful partnership – there is no reason to change it.
“I think this is going to be another year where it’s all about maximising every single point and just having that consistency,” he continued.
“The reliability record I have had at West Surrey Racing and BMW has been second to none, so that gives me a lot of confidence that we will be able to do this more often than the other teams. I’m clear on my aim, which is to go into the last race weekend with a realistic shot of being champion and then see if we can get it done on the day.”
The British Touring Car Championship starts at Donington Park in late April but before that, teams and drivers will take part in three official pre-season tests days.
Held at various venues, the track time will be arguably more important than ever due to the introduction of a new Cosworth hybrid system. Weighing 64kg and rated at 58-volt, the ‘push to pass’ set-up provides a 40bhp power boost to either defend or attack and is available for a maximum of 15 seconds per lap.
Bosses of the UK tin top series have also confirmed success ballast – a practice that uses weight to slow down the fastest drivers – is to be jettisoned in favour of incremental restrictions on the amount of power available to the top cars.
“I would say the move to hybrid technology this year and the opportunities that will create, not only with the competition, but with a chance to race more sustainably – which is something I’m very aware of – has only made me more excited about the season ahead,” explained Turkington.
“I’m seriously impressed by the endeavour and the work that’s going on inside the team. The move to hybrid technology isn’t just a case of dropping a battery in; there’s a motor and a cooling system, too, and really, it’s a complete overhaul.
“My engineer John [Waterman] has been working all hours of the day redesigning bits here and there to accommodate all of the technical changes. I’m a big fan of Formula E and watch the races, so I’ve seen the difference it makes when a driver takes ‘Attack Mode’ and has a bit more power available.
“The way our deployment works is a bit different, but it has the potential to create an overtaking opportunity that not might have existed last year. In theory, that should make the racing more exciting and a bit less predictable. That’s what the fans want to see so I think it will be popular with them.
“On the environmental side, of course we must do all we can to race more sustainably and to live more sustainably, too. I’m on a mission to try to be carbon-positive this year [less than a zero-carbon footprint] and it would be great if the paddock as a whole tried to do something similar.”