Small steps in pursuit of the big gains still driving force for British champion Colin Turkington
In a world defined by degrees of seconds, Colin Turkington’s drive for glory remains one months in the making.
The Portadown-born driver will return to the race track on Sunday for the first British Touring Car Championship defence of his third title triumph.
With motorsport success measured by strength of speed, Turkington maintains it is a marathon not a sprint to reach the top.
His pursuit of excellence since stepping into the British Touring Car Championship scene in the early noughties has led to lifting the ultimate crown in 2009, 2014 and last season.
Now he lines out in Team BMW colours keen to stand apart in the sport’s modern era as a four-time champion.
His devotion towards that goal has included moving the Turkington family from Northern Ireland to England - just another example of the 37-year-old’s determination to seek out every possible edge.
“It was obviously a big decision, especially with the boys in primary school, but we weighed it up and everyone has settled in superbly over the past few months,” said Turkington. “Previously I was flying over pretty much twice a week, so immediately I’m cutting out the stress and strain of 100 flights a season.
“I’ve always been keen on looking at all aspects to try and help my situation, ranging from exercise to diet.
“Now I am 20 minutes away from Silverstone and it takes over an hour just to reach the team base, which is a significant difference and gives me so much more time to be involved in the process.
“With making the transition to a different car, the more time I can devote to working with the team and being directly involved in the discussion can only help ease the process.
“Ultimately, the car is a different shape and the hope is the shell now proves more aerodynamic to aid weight distribution and other areas.
“But to really benefit it is about the car and driver finding that balance together and that only comes out of time.
“Often over the season we find it a learning process across races and the middle of the calendar tends to prove a purple-patch in terms of results, then we build towards a strong finish.
“That often comes down to the tracks or conditions.
“But if it is possible to cut down on that bedding-in period then that can only be good for everyone.”
Thirty rounds of racing across one of the most competitive fields in motorsport attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators and viewing figures of millions on ITV.
“There are a lot of commitments over the year but experience allows me to find time to relax and keep my focus leading up to race weekends,” said Turkington. “It is about the small margins making the big difference and a lot of it comes down to that mental strength.
“In British touring cars it is such a strong field that consistency proves vital.
“No-one can win every race but over the years I have been able to find consistency and know how crucial every single point can prove overall.
“You need to show resilience and patience and understand it is those bad weekends that can add up to something great.
“You must extract every and any positive from each meeting.
“That is why it is about putting everything into seeking every advantage and the idea behind the car change is to present a stronger overall package.
“You spend the close-season months analysing everything and searching for improvements - but that is when you need the support of family and the rest of the team.
“Everyone works together and there is a real trust developed over the years with the people on the team, plus so much understanding from my family.
“Everything helps and allows me to go into the season as current champion but without that resting on my shoulders as added pressure.
“Everything achieved stands on the history books but does not count for anything now.
“Each season seems harder than the previous campaign in many ways, with the commitment from everyone now so high and everyone battling and working so hard.
“You need that special mix of driving skill, car reliability, Lady Luck and teamwork.
“Not every year is your year but you must draw on experience and have faith in the preparation and the ability of those around you towards the same goal.
“My motivation comes from pushing to move forward and having ‘Number One’ on the car is just a sign of the past.
“I start each season with a clean slate and, rather than weighed down by past achievements, I keep my mind on what I can target in the future.”