Croft: Series pre-race notes

NORTHERN IRISH ACE TURKINGTON LOOKING TO TAKE OVER POINTS LEAD AHEAD OF BREAK Colin Turkington says scorching hot weather at Croft this Sunday will give him his best chance of sneaking past Matt Neal into the lead of the HiQ MSA British Touring...

NORTHERN IRISH ACE TURKINGTON LOOKING TO TAKE OVER POINTS LEAD AHEAD OF BREAK

Colin Turkington says scorching hot weather at Croft this Sunday will give him his best chance of sneaking past Matt Neal into the lead of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship just ahead of the series' mid-season break.

Team RAC BMW driver Turkington won twice 11 days ago at Oulton Park to close to within just two points of Vauxhall's Neal at the top of the table.

In fact the Northern Irishman (pictured leading) briefly sniffed the championship lead after winning race two at Oulton, only for a non-score in race three to then enable Neal to claw back in front.

The 27-year-old, who this weekend at Croft will make his 200th race start in the BTCC, said: "I'm not too disappointed to have dropped behind Matt in that race. It means my car will have less success ballast than his in qualifying and race one and I see Croft being a more difficult circuit to carry the ballast.

"If it's another scorcher, like at Oulton, then I think we can be very competitive again but if it's cooler or there's a bit of drizzle then it could even things out. I won twice at Croft last year, in very wet and then damp conditions, so I'm sure the car will be competitive whatever the conditions. But how close to the sharp end you never can tell until everyone takes to the track."

Turkington's two wins at Oulton were achieved in polished style after he first saw off 2001 title-winner Jason Plato and then reigning Champion Fabrizio Giovanardi. The title race's top three, then, arriving at Croft is Neal, Turkington and Giovanardi but the Portadown man believes others still have time to come into play.

He added: "It's certainly not a three-horse race. Jason, Robert Collard and James Thompson are all pretty close as well and it's still early days. Yes, we've had 12 races so far but there are still another 18 to go. It could all look very different after Croft this weekend. In particular I think Jason is looking really strong - it seems his Chevrolet is going to be competitive everywhere and he'll win more races.

"But results breed confidence. I feel I'm driving well but I don't feel over-confident. OK, I had a couple of cracking races at Oulton and you feel on top of the world when that happens but then you get a race like race three. It's important you learn how to ride the highs and the lows as well."

-credit: btcc.net

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Series BTCC
Drivers Fabrizio Giovanardi , James Thompson , Jason Plato , Colin Turkington , Matt Neal , Robert Collard