BTCC POINTS LEADER TURKINGTON BECOMES AMBASSADOR FOR GO MOTORSPORT SCHEME
HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship points leader Colin Turkington is the latest big name in UK motor sport to join the prominent ranks of Go Motorsport ambassadors.
The Northern Irishman has joined fellow BTCC ace Jason Plato in adding his name to the roster of British stars backing the Motor Sports Association's new Go Motorsport initiative - a scheme set up specifically to help people of all ages become involved in all areas of motor sport whether as a competitor, volunteer or spectator.
Established by the MSA, the governing body of UK motor sport, Go Motorsport was launched last summer at the McLaren Technology Centre by reigning FIA Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton. Turkington and Plato aside, the impressive list of ambassadors supporting the scheme also includes the likes of current F1 points leader Jenson Button and both Allan McNish and David Brabham - winners of the Le Mans 24 Hours sports car race these past two years.
Turkington, 27, from Portadown in Co Armagh and one of the world's top touring car drivers is currently the man to beat in the BTCC - the UK's premier race series. For the past two seasons he has been the Independent Drivers Champion and currently enjoys a sizeable lead in the outright 2009 championship standings.
But like so many others, Turkington cut his teeth in junior karting and furthered his car control skills in autograss before switching to circuit racing in 1998, winning the Northern Irish Metro Championship on his debut. Having won at home, he broadened his horizons by switching to the British-based Ford Fiesta Championship, a title he won in 2001. That success paved the way for promotion into the BTCC and he was one of the first-year recruits onto the MSA's Race Elite scheme in 2007.
While Go Motorsport is a nationwide campaign, Turkington hopes that his personal involvement in the initiative will encourage people of all ages to follow in his wheel tracks by taking up circuit racing in his native Northern Ireland.
"I'm delighted to be involved with Go Motorsport," enthused Turkington. "The people of Northern Ireland are very passionate about their motor sport and hopefully what I'm doing will help encourage people to get involved. Rallying and motor cycle racing have always been very strong here, but there are plenty of other opportunities as well. I know, for instance, a lot of effort is going into the kart track at Nutts Corner and that's got to be great news particularly for the next generation of potential competitors."
Turkington also is keen to encourage more people to extend their passion for motor sport by volunteering to fill crucial roles at events. "It's no exaggeration to say most motor sport wouldn't exist without the efforts of these volunteers. More than that, though, volunteering can be a great way into the sport. A good example is one of my engineers at Team RAC - he first got into racing by being a trackside marshal; now, as my data engineer, he's a vital part of our current success."
Many of the current BTCC teams and drivers - as well as those in the supporting Ginetta, Porsche and Renault series - have also displayed their support for Go Motorsport by running decals on their cars at race events in 2009. BTCC Series Director Alan Gow says Turkington's addition as an ambassador adds further kudos to the scheme.
Gow said: "For some years Colin has been one of the top names in the BTCC, but this year his terrific results in front of our huge trackside crowds (and an ITV audience of millions more) has meant his profile has skyrocketed. That can only be of a great benefit to Go Motorsport - and, having himself worked his way up from grass roots level, he has a genuine desire to actively encourage new people into our sport. Of course it's great to see a driver of his standing giving something back to the sport that has served him so well."
Meanwhile, MSA Chief Executive Colin Hilton is delighted that Turkington has joined the Go Motorsport campaign. He said: "Colin Turkington is one of the stars of British motor sport and a true ambassador in every sense of the word. He has been a leading light in our premier championship for many years and a terrific role model to the millions of BTCC fans throughout the country. I know he will be a great asset to the Go Motorsport campaign, particularly to our efforts to inspire those in Northern Ireland to get involved in our sport."