Turkington crowned triple BTCC Champion
The 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship drew to a close at Brands Hatch with Colin Turkington crowned champion for the third time in his career. The 36-year-old Team BMW driver held a 34-point advantage going into the final weekend of the season, and he duly extended that gap by a further two in the opening contest around the Kent circuit.
Nearest challenger, Tom Ingram, then needed to score at least a podium in the second bout to keep his championship charge alive, and the Speedworks Motorsport star did everything he could to achieve it. Surging from 14th on the grid, Toyota man Ingram made pass after pass and was lying in fourth during the closing stages. He made a number of attempts to make one more all-important move, but BMW Pirtek Racing’s Andrew Jordan held on ahead of him – helping to secure stablemate Turkington’s BTCC title hat-trick, as well as Manufacturers’ and Teams’ glory for BMW.
Turkington’s stellar season was one of incredible consistency as he won just one race during the 30-race campaign – at Oulton Park in June – but a further ten podium finishes underlined his brilliance.
Ingram ended his impressive season on a high with yet more charging drives, which were a staple of his 2018 challenge. The 25-year-old was rewarded with a fantastic runners-up spot in the overall Drivers’ standings, as well as securing Independents’ titles for him and his Speedworks Motorsport squad.
Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher’s Tom Chilton completed the Championship top three, as well as following Ingram home in the fight for Independents’ honours.
The races themselves around the 2.43-mile Grand Prix circuit proved typically dramatic, with the best being saved until the last. The opener went the way of Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Dan Cammish – a 17th different race winner of the season – as he headed home team-mate Matt Neal, whilst WIX Racing with Eurotech’s Brett Smith completed the podium.
The manufacturer-backed Honda boys did it again in race two as Cammish led Neal once more. It has been an up and down campaign for the Team Dynamics-run outfit, but a successful final day helped them to secure runners-up laurels in both the Manufacturers’ and Teams’ tables.
The final race was a BTCC classic as Ash Sutton triumphed by just 0.032s from Josh Cook. An incredible battle between Power Maxed TAG Racing’s Cook and outgoing Champion Sutton had the huge crowd on its collective feet as the duo ran side-by-side and swapped positions on several occasions. Cook looked to have held off his former team-mate and good friend going into the final corner, but Adrian Flux Subaru Racing’s Sutton had other ideas. Sutton ran his Levorg around the outside of the Vauxhall Astra through Clearways and in an incredible drag race to the finish, the #1 car stole victory in the closest finish of the season. DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing’s Rob Austin completed the final podium of the year – himself less than a second behind Sutton – as the popular Alfa Romeo driver took his second rostrum of 2018.
“The emotions are just so raw. I was driving around there preparing for a dogfight in race three thinking ‘how on earth I was going to get forward’. I wasn’t expecting the news on the radio that I’d won the championship. I’m so pleased for so many people. The first one, I really wanted it for me. It was my goal in 2009 and I wanted it more than anything“, Turkington said, “With BMW’s support coming on-board last year, it’s so special to win it for them. It’s an amazing achievement and for West Surrey Racing, too – they never give up. We’re always the last in the pits on Saturday evening – we just work, work, work. That’s the secret. We never had the fastest car this year; we just kept at it, scoring points. I’m so pleased for my family. We knew coming into the season that you’ve just got to score points. It’s very difficult to do as you can see from that race. I’ve had one win but ten podiums and they are as good as wins in this championship.”
“This is the one that I wanted for my Mum, for Tipper (West Surrey Racing truck driver) and for Steve“, Tuskington added, “There’s so many people that I wanted it for, I’m so pleased for them and for my mum.”
The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will return in 2019 with the season commencing on the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in April. The series will will again comprise of 30 races across ten events, with the Brands Hatch GP circuit again playing host to the season finale.