TURVEY TAKES THIRD IN TURBULENT FINALE Oliver Turvey and Team SWR kept up their superb record of podium finishes with third place in the dramatic penultimate round of the 2005 Formula BMW UK Championship, but -- not for the first time this ...
TURVEY TAKES THIRD IN TURBULENT FINALE
Oliver Turvey and Team SWR kept up their superb record of podium finishes with third place in the dramatic penultimate round of the 2005 Formula BMW UK Championship, but -- not for the first time this season -- it could easily have been a race victory.
Having joined the series several rounds late, Turvey was not involved in the championship fight, but he qualified on the front row for race one, comfortably faster than title contenders Sam Bird and Dean Smith. Unfortunately a slow start dropped Oliver to third, behind points leader Bird. Turvey was capable of lapping quicker than Bird, who carried a secure 17 point advantage going into the deciding double-header and therefore only needed a pair of safe top five finishes to become champion, whatever Smith achieved. But rather than driving conservatively to wrap up the title, Bird was fighting hard to protect his second place from Turvey. Then on lap nine, he appeared to concede the position, moving to the right on the exit of Graham Hill Bend and seemingly handing Oliver the inside line for Surtees. Turvey duly drew alongside and slightly ahead, and was shocked to find Bird turning in and making contact with him when they reached the corner. Bird was immediately out of the race, and Oliver lost several seconds and fell to fourth.
"Oliver was completely innocent," said SWR Team Principal Trevor Powell. "He was circulating quicker than Bird and the leader Matt Howson and was getting very frustrated, because he expected Sam to do the sensible thing and let him go. If Sam had thought about his championship for a second, the incident could have been avoided, Oliver would have finished at least second and maybe beaten Matt to the win, and Sam would have the championship that he probably deserved over the balance of the season.
"The Clerk of the Course watched the television replays and agreed that Sam had moved as if he was letting Oliver through, and then turned in at the last moment and made contact. Oliver was completely exonerated."
Turvey recovered to finish third, lapping faster than the leaders but running out of time to catch Howson and new second place man Smith. Third on the grid for race two should have given Turvey another chance to fight for victory in the final round, but he was hit from behind on the first lap and suffered a rear puncture. He pitted for repairs and proceeded to lap much faster than the leaders throughout the race, despite being a lap down and 16th by the time he was able to rejoin.
Lars Viljoen could sympathise with Oliver after his similarly luckless day. A typically superb start saw Viljoen surge from 17th on the grid to the verge of the top ten in the opening yards of race one, but then he became entangled in another driver's accident at the Druids hairpin and was out of the race immediately. He got further in race two, despite the best efforts of Dominique Cauvin, who received a license endorsement for pushing Lars off the road. This incident significantly delayed Viljoen and relegated him to 14th at the finish.
Wet weather helped Matt Harris to an amazing victory for SWR at Mondello Park in July, but at Brands the mixed conditions of testing hampered Matt's weekend, as he managed very little dry running prior to the meeting. Having never raced on the challenging Brands GP circuit before, he badly needed this mileage. He qualified 19th for both races, but moved up superbly to take 13th in race one. Unfortunately he slid off early in race two.
"Matt got quicker and quicker as his confidence built up in the first race, and in the second he just decided to go for broke and it didn't quite work out," said Powell. "Poor Lars spent race day as the victim of other drivers' mistakes, but both of them drove very well in between the incidents.
"We scored 12 points today when really we could have taken 25-30, so in that sense it's disappointing, but once again we were clearly fast enough to fight at the front. We've had a driver on the podium at virtually every meeting this season, or had some kind of misfortune with the podium within reach."
Although the 2005 UK Championship season is now over, SWR is already preparing for the Formula BMW World Finals at the Bahrain Grand Prix circuit in Decemeber, where Harris and Turvey will represent the team against the best drivers from BMW series around the globe.