Reigning champion Colin Turkington currently tops the charts as the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship speeds into Thruxton next weekend (19/20 September), but the Team BMW star has a host of young talents hunting him down.
The UK’s premier motorsport series is edging towards its halfway mark in the season, having already produced a dozen stunning contests, and now the BTCC’s tin-top stars get set to take on the fastest circuit in the country.
Turkington has claimed two wins up to this point of the 2020 campaign – two fewer than his main title rival, Ash Sutton – but it has been the 38-year-old’s extraordinary consistency that currently sets him apart from the chasing pack.
Sutton is an ever-emerging threat, however, as the Laser Tools Racing ace grabbed his third and fourth victories of the season at Knockhill last time out, and now the Infiniti Q50 driver is just ten points off the championship summit.
“Thruxton is fantastic,” said Sutton. “It’s the fastest circuit in the UK and as a driver it is a rollercoaster ride, you are white-knuckled. It’s one of those tracks where you do a lap and think ‘right, now breathe’, and then you are straight back into another one. You are just constantly on edge and the heart rate is racing!”
Rory Butcher (Motorbase Performance), Tom Oliphant (Team BMW) and Dan Cammish (Halfords Yuasa Racing) have all stood on the top step of the podium in 2020 too, and this trio of racers plus several others are still very much in the running to win the most coveted prize in British motorsport.
The 2.36-mile Hampshire speedbowl is a circuit that Turkington admits is not his favourite, which will provide yet more hope for those looking to steal his crown, and with 15 races still to run there is a long way to go before this year’s title is decided.
“We’re only four weekends in,” commented Turkington after his double podium at Knockhill. “I’m keeping that at the forefront of my mind and am conscious just to keep scoring really good points. We’ve got a long season ahead – we go until mid-November, which is a long way away.”
There are a number of drivers looking for a change in fortunes as the BTCC heads to Hampshire, none more so than Bath racer Josh Cook, who regards Thruxton as his local venue.
The BTC Racing man has qualified well so far this season, but some of his race days have unravelled, largely due to issues outside of his control. The official BTCC website will be catching up with Cook next week on the eve of his home weekend, but the Honda Civic Type R driver is clear that this circuit is one for the brave.
“Thruxton is my home circuit and I love the place,” he said. “My favourite corner is probably either Noble or Goodwood, which are really, really fast. Church is great fun too, but I actually think you need to be braver at Noble and Goodwood.”
The race weekend will again be run behind closed doors due to the ongoing COVID-19 protocols for elite sporting events, but all of Sunday’s BTCC action will be broadcast on ITV2 from 11:10.
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