The WSR squad will be celebrating tonight after their Team RAC BMW driven by Colin Turkington became Independent Drivers champion this afternoon after taking two Independent wins at the final round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton this afternoon.
Entering the weekend three points behind Championship leader Mike Jordan, Colin gained the advantage after the first race before cementing his Championship status as the chequered flag fell on second race. A points tally of 285 was enough to clinch the title from second place finisher Mat Jackson (270) with Mike Jordan (260) eventually finishing in third.
Team RAC also secured the Independent Teams Championship by a fantastic 89-point advantage over second placed Jacksons Motorsport.
Colin Turkington got the dream start he was looking for after finishing sixth overall and the first Independent driver to take the chequered flag in the first of today’s three races. Independent rival Mike Jordan was forced to retire from the race on lap 11 having suffered front suspension damage resulting in Colin securing a 12 points advantage in the title race.
Following podium celebrations Colin said: “My focus is the Independent title and that is exactly the result I needed. I’ve picked up maximum points and it’s given me the edge. I feel there’s a little more to come from the car so we’ll be making a few minor changes for the next race.”
A great getaway off the start line saw fellow Team RAC driver Tom Onslow-Cole improve on his 13th place grid position to finish in tenth place. Tom commented: “I struggled a little bit with understeer, particularly at Church, but you can really feel the power of the BMW at a circuit like this. I’ve improved my starting position for the next race but there’s still room for further improvement.”
In a race that was interspersed with punctures the finishing order changed frequently during the latter stages of the races. Leading from start to finish Fabrizio Giovanardi took the win with Jason Plato and Gordon Shedden finishing second and third respectively.
Weather / Track: Bright / Dry
By the end of race two Colin Turkington had the Independent Driver championship sown up for Team RAC when crossing the line in fourth place taking another Independents win in his WSR prepared BMW 320si.
The Northern Irishman was delighted to have clinched the title with a race to spare. He said: “I’m over the moon as it was a difficult race. I’d got real good pace in the car but I didn’t want to take any risks. I just had to run through the strategy in my head and play it safe which wasn’t easy when I came under pressure from Mat (Jackson).
“I’ve got no pressure now heading into the last race and I can really just enjoy it, although I’ll still be racing!”
It was another good getaway off the start-line for the rear-wheel drive BMW of Tom Onslow-Cole placing the youngster in ninth place after the opening lap. Settling into the race and running in eighth he lost out two places to Tom Chilton and Mike Jordan as the latter straight-lined the Club Chicane. Tom went on to claim tenth place and a single point.
Fabrizio Giovanardi, Jason Plato and Matt Neal took to the podium for the overall finishing positions.
Weather / Track: Sunny / Dry
With the reverse grid rule coming into play, number seven drawn by race winner Fabrizio Giovanardi meant that BTCC ‘extra’ Tom Coronel took pole for the final race of the day with Team RAC’s Colin Turkington and Tom Onslow-Cole lining up fourth and tenth respectively.
Colin got a great start using the BMW‘s rear-wheel drive to its full potential driving around the outside of Coronel and Alain Menu to take up second place behind independent BMW driver Mat Jackson. With Colin increasing the pressure on the race leader he saw an overtaking opportunity coming into Club Chicane only for the two BMW’s to make contact sending the Ulsterman into a spin. Colin rejoined the race to finish in 11th place.
Despite missing out on a final podium of the day the newly crowed Independent Drivers Champion was nonetheless happy as the 2007 season came to a close. He said: “I was having a good race with Mat and was getting really close when we had an incident at the chicane and I came off worse. I had nothing to lose in that race so I had to give it a go. But overall, the WSR guys have done a great job and I’ve come away as Independents Champion which is exactly what I wanted to achieve this weekend.”
Tom Onslow-Cole was enjoying the final race of his inaugural BTCC season when a collision with Mike Jordan at Club Chicane ended the rookies race prematurely. Damage to the front track rod was enough to force the Team RAC BMW to retire early. Tom said: “The car felt better but unfortunately I made contact with Jordan and the track rod gave up on me. From where we started in practice I do feel that we made progress with the car throughout the weekend but unfortunately I wasn’t really able to show it out on track as I seemed to get caught up in a few battles.”
The 20-year-old has enjoyed a successful introduction to the BTCC. He added: “It’s been a fantastic year and it’s a shame that it’s now ended. It’s been truly brilliant. My BTCC career couldn’t have got off to a better start and I hope to be back next year.”
Weather / Track: Cloudy / Dry
Team principal for Team RAC, Dick Bennetts is pleased with this seasons results and the amount of effort from the WSR team to claim both the Independent Drivers and the Independents Team Championship. Summarising on race three of the afternoon, Dick said: “It would have been a fitting end for Colin to finish the season with a race win but we knew by this point that both Independents Championships were won. All in all our first season with BMW has been a great success.
“Tom has done very well this year when you consider he is only 20-years of age and in his first season of touring cars. It’s been a steep learning curve for him and he’s handled it very well.”
Rudolf Gmeiner, BMW Motorsport was trackside to witness BMW’s first trophy success in the current BTCC era having accomplished championship status in both the European and World Touring Car Championship. He said: “I think that it is good that BMW can participate in the BTCC since the introduction of the new regulations. It’s a very good championship and we are pleased to be here. It is a great result for WSR as we were quite late putting the car together and were unable to complete a full preparation programme for the season.”
The overall Drivers Championship came down to the wire between VXR’s Fabrizio Giovanardi and SEAT’s Jason Plato as the Championship entered the final race. The Italian came out on top with a three-point advantage.