COLIN Turkington will have little time for nostalgia when he returns to the British Touring Car Championship grid this weekend for the first time since winning the 2009 title.
The Portadown driver recently agreed a deal to compete in the eBay Motors’ BMW 1-Series and remains delighted with his decision despite preparations disrupted by delays and illness.
Turkington’s work leading up to the opening round at Brands Hatch has been affected by the driver contracting a virus which has left him suffering from Bell’s palsy, a form of facial paralysis. Delays with the car following weather-hit test sessions have served to further impact on the pre-season build-up.
However, Turkington has confidence in his team and admits excitement at the prospect of competing in a championship field which includes the local ace as one of four former champions.
“Jason Plato, Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal have also each won the title in the past but the entry list looks tough across the board,” said Turkington. “From my viewpoint, I am just thrilled to be back racing and feel we will get up to speed pretty quickly given the level of ability and experience within the team.
“I have worked with many of these guys over a period of eight years or so and that can only help us in the long run.
“We aim to hit the ground running at Brands Hatch but also remain realistic about the uncertainty over how the car will perform until we get out on the track.
“We have been running behind in our testing and, to be honest, my time in the car adds up at this point to a few hours compared to probably weeks under ideal circumstances.
“Although short on miles, everyone is working extremely hard and all I can influence at this point is my own condition.
“Physically and mentally I am feeling good overall and the Bell’s palsy is just something we have had to work through over the past number of weeks.
“I have been told it is a temporary condition and medication is helping so it is just about giving it time and putting my focus on getting as ready as possible.
“The gap between Brands Hatch this weekend and Donington on April 21 can give us crucial time to finetune the car and other details but right now it is about getting off to the best possible start.”
Turkington views the team and car as an ideal combination.
“We may sit about 12 months behind some of the competition but everyone within the team considers the car equal to the main opposition,” said Turkington. “The 1-Series is operating off the latest specs and three solid results this weekend would help us kick everything off in the right way.
“Then it is about building on the start and improving over time but I am back in familiar territory with the team and it feels natural to be back in the British championship with these guys.
“You have to take confidence from what we have achieved together in the past and the knowledge of what is needed in certain situations.
“It is all just pretty exciting, to be honest.”