Colin Turkington admitted he was thrilled to successfully defend the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship Independents' title after holding off the challenge of Mat Jackson on Finals Day at Brands Hatch.
The Team RAC man headed into the final three races of the season with a 22 point lead over fellow BMW driver Jackson in the fight for the Indy crown, and also held a slender three point advantage in the fight for third place.
Two victories for Jackson meant he was not only able to jump ahead of Turkington in the overall standings but also took second from Jason Plato, although for Turkington, the focus heading into race day had been very much on successfully defending the Independents' title he took last year.
While Jackson finished ahead in all three races, Turkington was able to finish high enough to ensure that he clinched the Indy title by ten points.
“I'm really happy and relieved,” he told Crash.net
. “The priority was the Independents' title again and it is important for everyone at RAC. That was what we were firmly set on and there was a lot of pressure all weekend. We had a 22 point lead but that can come down quickly so the plan was to stay out of trouble and keep scoring points and in the end I won it by ten. I'm really thrilled and glad it's all over as it has been a pressure filled day.
“Mat came out of the blocks quickly on Saturday and went well so it was important that I had an advantage and had built it up earlier in the year. In the races today I was trying to stay out of trouble and the second race in particular was good as I sat behind Matt Neal and he was making the moves which meant I didn't have to risk too much.”
Heading into next season, Turkington will now look to try and launch a challenge for overall honours, although he admitted that taking the step 'to the next level' wasn't easy.
“At the beginning of the season, everyone starts out with the aim of trying to win the championship,” he said. “Come the half-way point, the number of contenders comes down so it's tough. Jason and Fabrizio have set a high benchmark and it is hard to move to that next level. The last few years, we have been finishing third and fourth in the drovers' standings and it is hard to move to the next step. However, it has been a good season and we have scored more points and more wins than last year. We have improved the car through the year, especially in the wet, so we have something to build on for next year.
“We really need to do a thorough test programme so we don't rely on what comes through from BMW and can make our own improvements to move things forward, as everyone else will. We have a better understanding of the car now and there are still areas we need to work on but we have a strong package for most circuits now.”