I (Nick DeGroot) got the chance to talk one-on-one with 2009 British Touring Car champion and current series points leader Colin Turkington.
Colin Turkington is an Irish born racer with a knack for racing touring cars. In his early career, he captured titles in both the Northern Irish Metro Series, as well as the Ford Credit Fiesta Zetec Championship. He showed up on the British Touring Car scene in 2002, snagging his first podium in the process.
"It's going very well. We've just been consistent more than anything else. We were really fast in the last meeting at Oulton Park. Up until that point, we've probably been a couple tenths shy of the ultimate pace." he told Motorsport.com "I've just been trying to be consistent and take advantage of the reverse grid in Race Three and bag some wins when maybe we didn't have the fastest car. Going off the back of Oulton, we were quite quick, so hopefully that will continue for the rest of the season.
He also cited the Hondas and MG's as his biggest threats in terms of the title, saying "There's like six guys that have won it before and so, they obviously know how to win a championship. At the moment, the biggest threat will come from the Hondas and the MG's. Those are the guys that are consistently at the front and constantly scoring a good amount of points."
When it came to specific drivers, it's no surprise that he named Jason Plato, Matt Neal, Gordon Shedden and Andrew Jordan. "Those are the guys that will go into the final event fighting for the championship," Turkington stated. "Hopefully, we're in the thick of things as well."
Although he's enjoyed a very successful career in British Touring Cars, Colin did hit a rough patch. After securing the 2009 championship honors, he found himself without a seat in 2010. It wouldn't be until 2013 that the series would see him competing again. What did he do in the mean time? Well, race of course.
He also feels that the break from BTCC also helped him improve his ability and become a stronger driver because of it. "To get the chance to learn new circuits, different cars, and picking up different tactics have definitely helped me come back to the BTCC and be a better driver."
Since he brought up the WTCC, I was then interested to know how racing in that series and driving those cars compared to what he experienced in the BTCC. "At the time, the cars were exactly the same as what I was racing in BTCC. In fact, the car I won the championship with in 2009, that was the same car I raced in 2010 in World Touring Cars."
Colin Turkington also recalled one of the most enthralling races in BTCC history -- the one where he won the championship. Going into the finale, he, Fabrizio Giovanardi, and Jason Plato all had realistic shots at the crown. He described the event as "a gloves off affair" from the first lap to the last lap and that "it was basically winner take all." "I had to fight so hard to fend off those guys. Both the car and myself had crossed the line in pretty bad shape."
He wasn't exaggerating either. Below is a clip from that vey race, showcasing how hard he fought to keep the championship within his grasp in one of the most riveting BTCC races you'll ever see.
We then shifted the conversation, talking a bit about the series itself. "The series is really strong at the moment with the number of cars on the grid and also the following that we're getting," Turkington told Motorsport.com. "At Oulton Park, there were 43,000 people there, and that's a good turnout for a football match. It's great to be racing in front of so many people."
"His was a freak accident. Just as he touched the curb, there was a suspension failure, and that's probably the worst place in the UK that you could have a suspension failure," Turkington revealed. "That's probably the fastest corner we have, so a bit of bad luck there. The safety record is very good, and at Thruxton you don't really have the run off that you have at some of the more modern circuits."
"There has to be a bit of a risk factor so that it remains a challenge for the drivers. Nobody has been hurt in any of these accidents, so I don't see it to be much of a problem."
I then made the mistake of asking a race car driver what he would do if he could be in charge of the sport for a day. Wouldn't you know it, he immediately says that he wants to go faster. " (I'd) probably give the cars a bit more speed. With the cars being turbocharged now, I'd say we got an extra 100hp from what we had a few years ago. As a driver, you're always keen to go quicker and push the limits. I think we could go another step with performance and increase the speed of the cars. I think most of the drivers on the grid would be pretty happy about that."
"And I'm sure the fans wouldn't mind either," I added.
Recently, it was announced that the WTCC would be heading to the Nurburgring for an event in 2015. That doesn't affect Colin, but it was still interesting to get his thoughts on the news.
"I can imagine as a driver, that's going to be a great event. Every racer, the one thing they have have to check off their list, is drive on the Nordschleife. Not to many people actually get to do it. To race there in World Touring Cars is going to be pretty special."
As for the viewers, Turkington added, "I don't know how much of a spectacle it's going to be for those watching and for the TV (audience). With the size of the circuit, it will get pretty strung out. Though I suppose there will always be a battle going on with the long straights; plenty of slipstreaming.
"But yeah, everyone wants to race on the Nordschleife. I'd be pretty excited to do it."
As for his future and other motorsport events that Colin Turkington would like to compete in, he of course named one of the most popular touring car divisions out there.
"The Australian Touring Car Series (V8 Supercars). I follow it a bit on TV (and) that's sort of right up my street. I'm a rear-wheel drive man; been racing BMW's for quite a few years, and those cars have a lot of appeal."
As most race fans know, some drivers partake in some weird or bizarre rituals they must perform before jumping into the car, but not Turkington. "Are you one of those guys that have a bunch of weird rituals, like you count your socks, wear them inside out or something? (laughs)"
"(laughs) No, as long as I get a good nights sleep the night before, that's all I need. I don't have any particular drills I go through before a race. It's a busy race day. You know, we have three races in one day and there's quite a lot of other commitments. I like to get about 10 or 15 minutes to myself before the race, just to get my head in the zone. But no, no crazy things.
He then added, "I understand why some drivers do it. It's something you do one day and then you have a really good race that day so you think, okay, I must do exactly the same thing every day now. As long as I get a good nights sleep, I'm happy!"
I wanted to end it by trying to learn something about Colin that most fans don't know, or would be surprised be.
"And you're probably not going to need that backup plan now, are you?"
"Well, I hope not! (laughs) I never planned to use my degree, but it was a good life experience going there anyhow."
Lastly, there is this cool deal going on with eBay called the 'eBay Motors Makeover." I thought it was a really cool deal for fans that want to enter, so Colin gave me some more details on it.
"It's a brilliant initiative. Obviously, 99% of people own a car and there's always something that you want to do to it. You want to do something to the performance or the style, give it a new paint job or whatever. It's an easy competition to enter and two winners get £10,000 and a car makeover. The makeover is done by the guys on the race team and the winner decides what they want done to their own car, so it's a pretty unique offer. The winner also gets a few hot laps in the actual race car at Brands Hatch at the end of the year."
"I'll probably be entering myself! (laughs)"
Win an exclusive £10,000 makeover for your car with eBay Motors. Simply register your vehicle HERE