Team BMW have confirmed an unchanged driver line-up for the 2018 British Touring Car Championship with Colin Turkington and Rob Collard continuing in the team alongside already contracted Andrew Jordan who will once again compete under the BMW Pirtek Racing banner.
After going so close in 2017, Turkington will be hoping to go one better this year in what is the BTCC’s 60th anniversary.
Turkington is known as one of the best touring car drivers of all time, having already taken overall honours in 2009 and 2014, both with WSR, as well as multiple Independents’ championship honours. 2018 will be the Northern Irishman’s twelfth season with WSR having first driven for the team in 2003 in an MG.
After an injury blighted end to his 2017 season, Collard is back for his eleventh season with WSR in 2018, having first raced for the team in 2005. Collard himself is an Independents’ Champion, claiming the title in 2003 with his own team in a Vauxhall Astra.
Despite his injuries, 2017 was Collard’s strongest season as he scored points in the first 21 races of the season, unmatched by any other driver, which also included six podiums in the first six events.
As well as aiming for overall championship glory, the team will also be hoping to retain their Manufacture and Team Championship titles in 2018 having won both last year in BMW’s first manufacture backed entry since 1996.
Speaking with regards to the announcement, Turkington said, ““I’m excited for the new season and delighted to be staying with Team BMW and WSR for another year. This place feels like home to me, having raced here for 11 years already, and the environment is exactly what I need to get the best performance out of myself. I was bitterly disappointed to miss out on the Drivers’ Championship at the season finale last year and I’ll continue to put everything into winning the title this time around. The BMW 125i M Sport has won more titles than any other car in the past five years and the developments we’ve already tested for 2018 look like they’re going to make us even stronger, but we know that the competition won’t stand still so we’re expecting a tight battle.”
Rob Collard added, “The 2017 season was my most competitive to date in the BTCC and had I not missed the final five races, I’m certain I would have been in with a very strong chance of being champion. I’m fully recovered, have been training hard and can’t wait to get back behind the wheel of the BMW for the first test of the new year. This will be my ninth straight season with WSR and my 11th in total. Over that time my performances have improved year-on-year and I’ve played a key role in several title-winning campaigns. The Drivers’ Championship is my goal for 2018, and with the team continuing to evolve the car, I’m confident of fighting at the front.”
2013 BTCC Champion Andrew Jordan added, “This is the most excited I’ve been about a new BTCC season for a long time. Having the continuity of a second year with WSR and the vast engineering resource and experience they have will be a huge benefit to me. I was delighted to win three times with BMW Pirtek Racing in 2017 and lead the most distance, and now, with a year’s experience of a rear-wheel-drive touring car under my belt, I’m very confident of being a consistent challenger throughout the year. If we can achieve this as a team, there’s no reason why we can’t challenge for the championship.”
WSR Team Principal Dick Bennetts finally said, “We’re very pleased to again be given the responsibility of representing BMW in the BTCC. We won the Manufacturers’ title and made Team BMW Teams’ Champions in 2017, but now the target is to add another Drivers’ crown. In Colin, Rob and AJ, we have three extremely strong drivers who all won races last year and know what it takes to be a champion in this series, while in the BMW 125i M Sport, we have a car that’s undergone constant engineering development since 2013 and which has won six overall titles in the past five years. While the level of competitiveness in the BTCC seems to rise year-on-year, we’ve proved ourselves as consistent front-runners and again aim for silverware come the end of the season.”