The 2018 British Touring Car Champion Colin Turkington has confirmed this morning that he is staying with West Surrey Racing for the forthcoming season, with WSR also confirming that they have continued manufacturer backing from BMW.
This ends rumours that Turkington was going to race elsewhere in 2019 and that WSR would not have any manufacturer backing from BMW, with many speculating this to be the reason why Turkington wouldn’t race in the series next year.
It comes after an amazing 2018 season which saw Turkington fend off Tom Ingram to win his third drivers’ championship and also saw BMW clinch another manufacturers title. As a result, both parties will be hoping to clinch a fourth drivers’ and manufacturers title.
Turkington told the official BTCC website, “My 2018 title was definitely one of my best, and my goal is always to achieve just that; be the best I can in both life and motorsport.’
“Becoming a triple champion felt great, but I’m hungry for much more and racing with Team BMW in the BTCC gives me this opportunity. Now I have to ask myself ‘how can I improve for this coming season and how can I be a better driver?’
“I’m thrilled by the commitment from BMW that allows me to stay in one of the most desired seats in global touring cars and with a team who continue to set the benchmark. Team BMW is the place to be and we want to make history together. This is where I’m happiest; with people I trust, and when I’m happy, I perform.”
Team Principle Dick Bennetts told the BTCC, “I’m extremely pleased that Colin will defend his title with us, allowing WSR to carry #1 on a BTCC car for the first time, and equally proud that BMW has chosen to continue its support of our programme.’
“Colin is one of the world’s best touring car drivers and has spent the majority of his career with us, so we’ve developed an environment here that allows us all to get the best out of each other. I can’t think of a manufacturer who has achieved more in touring car racing globally than BMW, so to continue to be associated with them in 2019 is a great honour for our team.’
“We’ve won 10 overall BTCC titles in the past 10 seasons – all with BMWs – so to have their continued support in 2019 is a reflection of their belief in our team to get the job done.”
Turkington will be partnered by Tom Oliphant in light of Rob Collard looking at other things for 2019. Oliphant had an impressive debut season in 2018 piloting a Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
Oliphant told the BTCC, “It’s a dream come true to join WSR for next year’s British Touring Car Championship and I’m incredibly proud that Dick Bennetts and the team have shown the faith in me to provide this opportunity.’
“WSR have been the Teams’ Champions for the past three years and their reputation is of the absolute highest standard, while BMW’s contribution to touring car racing in Britain and across the globe is immense, so I’m incredibly excited and proud to be a part of this programme.’
“This gives me a great platform to achieve my targets in the BTCC, which are to take wins and podiums in 2019, finish in the top 10 of the points and compete for the Jack Sears Trophy.”
Dick Bennetts added, “We have a long history of working with young drivers and turning them into front-runners and champions, and we’re sure Tom has all the right attributes to achieve his potential with us. We were impressed with him in the BTCC support categories and the speed he showed in his rookie season in 2018 has convinced us that he’ll be the ideal driver to help us push on and achieve our aim of even more success in 2019.”
Oliphant will be replaced at Ciceley Motorsport for 2019 by Renault UK Clio Cup race winner Daniel Rowbottom.
“To join the BTCC grid is a dream come true,” Rowbottom told the BTCC website.
“With Ciceley Motorsport we have found a team that is a perfect fit and one that I am really happy to be with. We have been talking to the guys at Ciceley for a while and I have a really good feeling about the team and it will be great to be able to learn from Adam Morgan who has proved that the Mercedes-Benz A-Class is a winning car. I can’t wait to get started.”
Ciceley Motorsport Commercial Director Norman Burgess said: “We are delighted to welcome Dan to the team. We have been watching his pace in the Renault Clio Cup and have been very impressed, especially as he has been the real underdog up against the bigger teams.’
“We are confident that he will soon be up to speed in the BTCC and we look forward to working with Dan and seeing him progress in the championship.’
“Dan is a class act both at and away from the race track, we nearly secured his services while running our Clio team, everybody at Ciceley Motorsport is really looking forward to working with him.”
By Jordan Hollands.