Colin Turkington confident he will be up to speed for British Touring Car Championship season

Portadown driver gearing up for pre-season testing in BMW 330e


COLIN Turkington remains confident the speed he craves in the build-up to the new British Touring Car Championship season will be found over the course of the next two pre-season test sessions.

The Portadown driver’s preparations kicked off last month at Snetterton before these moved up a gear at Brands Hatch in Kent last week – the venue for the first official timed exercise that gave team bosses, engineers and drivers the chance to see how they compare to their main rivals.

Combining his times from a wet morning session to those he chalked up in the afternoon when the weather – and track conditions – were much more favourable, he finished the day in 12th.

His best lap of 53.215 seconds was 0.541 slower than fellow BMW 330 e M Sport driver, Jake Hill. West Surrey Racing – the team that runs Turkington’s car – was keen to point out that he did not take part in a new tyre run at the end of the afternoon session when times were tumbling quickest.

“Brands Hatch was the first time we have had the BMW with the new engine and the hybrid power available to deploy. It was always going to be a test where we could learn more,” said Turkington, who is back in action on Wednesday at Croft and then Donington Park on April 16 for the last test.

“We don’t have long before the start of the season, so we just have to keep learning as much as we can. This was a good opportunity to try some new things straight out of the box; some things work and some things didn’t. We will now regroup and go to Croft with an even stronger race car.”

The car Turkington is pinning his hopes of winning a record-breaking fifth drivers’ crown on is very different to the one he used last season, with this especially true under the bonnet. Recently, he said it was the one development that has got him most excited.

An evolution of the existing B48 powerplant, it is assembled at BMW’s Hams Hall facility in Warwickshire, England, before it is sent to long-time technical partner – and engine-preparation specialist – Neil Brown Engineering to apply the all-important finishing touches.

Besides a new face that helps align the race car with its showroom sibling and has allowed for a number of small but important aerodynamic and cooling tweaks to be made to the bodywork, the 2024-spec 330 e M Sport is also said to benefit from chassis and damper upgrades.

Combined, it is hoped these will make the German saloon a more formidable machine, especially when it comes to straight-line speed - something it was in lacking previously.

“The Brands Hatch test was all about looking at different out-of-the-box set-ups and exploring routes we have never been down before,” explained Turkington, who will run with the number 20 on his door for the 30-race campaign as a nod to his twentieth season in the UK’s tin top series.

“The BMW does feel different to last year because it has had a complete engineering overhaul, so you would expect it. Brands Hatch was the first time we ran with the hybrid system in use, so it is not really fair to make a comparison between the two tests.“We have only really scratched the surface with the car and I am sure that as we learn more, the speed will come,” he added.