Whilst acknowledging that he is hankering after a return to the top step of the podium, Colin Turkington has insisted that he doesn't have
to win any more races at all in the 2009 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) – just as long as he notches up enough points to be crowned series champion at season's end.
The Team RAC star will head into the final two rounds – at Rockingham in just under a fortnight's time and Brands Hatch two weeks later still – holding a slender eleven-point advantage in the title standings over closest challenger and defending double BTCC champion Fabrizio Giovanardi.
That may be a far from comfortable margin, but Turkington has long been adamant that he would much rather be the hunted than the hunter [see separate story – click here
], and a trio of top four finishes at Silverstone last time out – including a hard-fought race three rostrum on a day when Chevrolet ruled supreme and left the rest of the field to fight over the scraps in its wake – saw the Irishman reduce Giovanardi's hopes by two more points that could prove to be critical indeed in the final reckoning.
“It definitely was a tough weekend,” he reflected, speaking exclusively to Crash.net Radio
, “but we had steady results and increased the lead over Fabrizio by two points. Okay, that isn't very much, but it's another three races down. We just had a steady day, and it's not easy at the moment because there are a lot of very fast cars out there so you're just always trying to be in the hunt and near the sharp end.
“Race two was very tricky, because in those conditions the grip changes every lap. You experiment with different lines trying to find some grip, but there was very little so you just have to make sure first of all that you can get the car stopped going into the corners and then try and find some grip and be careful on the throttle. They really are the most difficult conditions.
“My car was very fast in the beginning on the dry track and we had about six or seven laps in the dry, but then it started to rain and slowly I lost grip. The front wheel-drive guys disappeared, but we held out until the end and in those conditions fourth was a really strong result.”
Turkington confessed that the presence of team-mate Stephen Jelley behind him in the last race of the day as a buffer to shield him from Giovanardi's attack was a boost as it 'took the pressure off and let me concentrate more on looking ahead rather than having to look in my mirrors' – but as to his chances at Rockingham, he remains coy. Perceived wisdom says the Corby circuit will be BMW territory, but reigning two-time Indie champion 'Turks' – who now hasn't triumphed in seven starts in 2009 – is playing his cards close to his chest.
“You never really know until the day,” the 27-year-old cautioned. “We've been good there in the past and it's quite a twisty track – not so much straights like at Silverstone – so hopefully we can be strong, though it's not easy at the moment because the Chevrolets are very quick and the Vauxhalls are quick.
“I had a good run in the middle of the summer and got quite a few victories then. Of course it's great to win and I'd like to win more races, but I don't have
to win – I just need to keep finishing well. The championship is always in the back of my head and I can't afford to take too many risks, so I'm just trying to accumulate the points.”
TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE