Whilst the Motorsport world was focussing on the imminent Mercedes driver announcement, it was easy to forget that Colin Turkington caused a bit of a stir in Britain’s premier racing series, the BTCC…
Turkington had helped take Team BMR’s brand new Subaru Levorg from a backmarker to a championship contender by the end of the 2016 BTCC season. He took five wins to Jason Plato’s one and almost snatched the title from under the noses of Gordon Shedden and Sam Tordoff. With development continuing and the car perhaps the quickest in the series now, Turkington was surely to be tipped as a contender for the title in 2017. But last Friday it emerged that he was leaving the team for pastures new. The question on everyone’s lips was where would he go next?
“I sincerely value the journey we have shared together, winning my fifth Indy title and the thrilling year we have just had with the Subaru Levorg.”
Perhaps the most obvious choice is a return to the team that gave Turkington his two titles, West Surrey Racing (WSR). The team has so far confirmed just Andrew Jordan as one of its three drivers, and Sam Tordoff has left the series to head off to GT racing. Rumours were strong at the Autosport Show that this is where Turkington is heading and is no doubt the most logical choice. He already knows the team and the BMW 1 Series is a fast car in the BTCC and a proven race and title winner. Turkington has had no issues with Jordan in the past and presumably would work well with the 2013 champion. So WSR looks like his ultimate destination. But where else could he go? The choices really are limited, and Turkington will only be interested in going to a team with a competitive car.
The Triple Eight MG Team may also be an option for Turkington. The team had a much better season in 2016 compared to the previous season, more podiums and a win for rookie Ash Sutton making it feel a bit more like the Plato glory days. A 1-2 was sadly lost in Silverstone due to a technical infringement, but the on-track results did show that progress had been made. Turkington might feel that the upward curve the team is on could offer greater potential in the long-term than the WSR BMW, which could potentially be overtaken by the Subaru, Honda, even potentially the new factory Vauxhall. Aside from the MG team, Honda are locked out and the only other potential alternative was the rapid Ford of Motorbase, but those seats were also snapped up last week.
“My exit from BMR was only yesterday, so I need some time to absorb the news, and work out the next path.”
Turkington has just two real chances of getting a top seat in the BTCC for 2017. A driver of his skill, charm and speed will no doubt get one of those two drives. You would be a fool to leave the popular and pacey Irishman off the grid. But he needs to sort it out as soon as he can – Hopefully he does so. The BTCC would be a poorer place if Turkington wasn’t there in 2017.