Team BMW are ready to hit the ground running as the 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship gets underway at Brands Hatch this weekend.
Run by WSR, the reigning Teams’ and Manufacturers’/Constructors’ Champions, Team BMW marks the first official involvement in the BTCC by the German marque for 21 years, and drivers Colin Turkington and Rob Collard are both aiming to prove their title credentials.
Colin, from Northern Ireland, re-joins the Sunbury-on-Thames-based team after two years away and wants to add a third BTCC drivers’ title to the crowns he won in WSR BMWs in 2009 and 2014.
With 41 victories and 17 pole positions, the Portadown driver is one of the most successful in the BTCC and has a special link to Brands Hatch as it was the scene of his maiden victory and pole position in the series.
Hampshireman Rob, a 13-time race winner in the BTCC, has an equally strong record at the 1.2-mile Brands Hatch Indy Circuit, having won the opening rounds of the 2012 and 2015 campaigns in WSR BMWs.
Colin and Rob are both aiming for a major milestone on Sunday as the next podium finish for the BMW 125i M Sport – now equipped with the brand-new BMW B48 turbo engine – will be the car’s 75th in the BTCC.
WSR-run cars have an excellent record on the Indy Circuit; scoring 10 victories and 32 podium finishes in the BTCC.
The Brands Hatch triple-header on April 1-2 is the first of 10 events in this year’s BTCC, which takes in nine circuits the length and breadth of the country. Each race will be screened live and exclusively on ITV4 in HD.
Colin Turkington said: “To race for Team BMW in 2017 is a dream come true. WSR is like a second home to me and to be part of a Manufacturer entry as well really raises the stakes. Brands Hatch is an incredibly important circuit in terms of my BTCC career. I had my first win and pole position here and secured both of my championship titles at the track. I’d love to add to those successes this weekend with the latest version of the BMW. It seems to be a car that was made for tracks like the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit because it’s so strong in terms of traction and looking after its tyres. I’m expecting a strong weekend.”
Rob Collard said: “I’ve never been as excited about a new BTCC season as I am right now. To be part of a Manufacturer team for the first time is a very proud moment for me, but it doesn’t change my target for the season. After having my most competitive BTCC campaign to date last year, I’m aiming for the title. I won the first race of the year at Brands Hatch in WSR-run BMWs in 2012 and 2015 and that gives me a lot of confidence heading into the weekend. The BMW is always strong at Brands and I think Colin and I both have a very good chance of ending up on the top step of the podium.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “A new season is upon us and everybody at Team BMW is ready to get back to racing. It’s been a very busy winter for us with new drivers joining the team, an exciting technical addition in the BMW B48 turbo engine and, most importantly, the opportunity to represent BMW as a Manufacturer entrant. We’re pleased to start the season at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit because it’s a track where our BMWs have traditionally been successful and both Colin and Rob have strong records there. As reigning Teams’ and Constructors’/Manufacturers’ Champions, we have a target on our backs, but that will only spur us on to achieve even more. However, we may have to be patient as our engine is brand new.