TURKINGTON BECOMES 2009 CHAMPION AS PLATO MAKES IT THREE WINS IN A DAY Northern Ireland's Colin Turkington is tonight celebrating becoming the 2009 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Champion following a nail-biting final race of the season on the ...
TURKINGTON BECOMES 2009 CHAMPION AS PLATO MAKES IT THREE WINS IN A DAY
Northern Ireland's Colin Turkington is tonight celebrating becoming the 2009 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Champion following a nail-biting final race of the season on the world-famous Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit today.
Three drivers - Turkington, Fabrizio Giovanardi and Jason Plato - all went into the race with a chance of lifting the title. But second place for Team RAC BMW driver Turkington behind Plato was sufficient for the 27-year-old from Portadown to clinch the first BTCC Drivers' crown of his career. Plato's win, incidentally, means he becomes only the second driver in history to win all three races in a day - the result means he has beaten Giovanardi to second in the final Drivers' standings.
Watching Turkington win his title were four generations of his family, including grand father Harry and baby son Lewis. In beating former title-winners Giovanardi and Plato, Turkington's name is now etched on to the coveted BTCC Champion's trophy - one of world motor sport's most prized pieces of silverware - alongside those of other great past champions such as Jack Sears, Jim Clark, Andy Rouse, John Cleland and Alain Menu.
"It's everything I've worked for," said the elated Turkington," but I couldn't relax at all. The pressure coming into the day was already immense. Then after the first two races the emotion inside me was something else - I knew I was close but that it could still be taken away from me. After leading the season for so long I don't think I could have taken that.
"It was the race of my life. I had to get past Matt (Neal, Giovanardi's team-mate) because he was holding me up, backing me into Fabrizio and if he'd got past me I knew it would be over. So I went for it and got the lead. Jason then got us all with a great move, but so long as I was where I was I knew I was in the right place. I concentrated on driving the best two laps of my life at the end and then, when my team confirmed it over the radio, I just burst into tears. To have my family and so many more supporters come over from Ulster to be here makes it so special."
Racing Silverline Chevrolet driver Plato, who won the BTCC title in 2001, said: "Colin has driven fantastically well. He did everything right today in keeping his nose clean and attacking at the right moments. All I could do was try and win races and then hope something might happen behind, but you simply can't take anything away from Colin - he is a truly worthy Champion."
Vauxhall's outgoing champion Giovanardi, who won the 2007 and 2008 titles, added: "I have no hard feelings. It was just great to be in such an exciting fight to finish and even though it did not come my way this time I still really enjoyed that last race because at least I went down fighting. But Colin really deserves to be the Champion."
Elsewhere, Vauxhall's 20-year participation in the BTCC has drawn to an end and, although the Drivers' title has eluded it, the British make and its VX Racing team still leave with the much-prized Manufacturers/Constructors trophy. VXR has also achieved the outright Teams' title. Meanwhile, Turkington and Team RAC have won third consecutive Independent Drivers' and Teams' crowns respectively.