Colin Turkington will take a 13 point lead into the final rounds of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch after successfully retaining his advantage on a tough weekend at Rockingham.
The points leader looked at risk of losing his advantage after only managing to qualify down in 14th place at the wheel of his Team RAC BMW, and lost points to both Fabrizio Giovanardi and Jason Plato in the opening two races of the weekend with tenth and fourth place finishes.
Turkington's hopes of limiting the damage looked like disappearing in the final race of the day when he suffered contact with Plato at the hairpin, but the BMW man was able to escape unscathed and then made the most of contact between Johnny Herbert and Giovanardi to get ahead of both drivers and secure a hard-fought fourth place.
That allowed him to outscore both Giovanardi and Plato, neither of whom was able to finish inside the top ten as a result of contact they suffered during the race.
While he now has just three races left in his quest to secure a first BTCC title, Turkington admitted that there is still a 'very high hurdle' left to clear at Brands Hatch, with Giovanardi and Plato both still in contention.
“Qualifying down the field wasn't the ideal start to the weekend but I managed to find some pace, especially during the final two races, and to come away with a 13 point lead is a great boost,” he said. “The car was quick, but the ballast played a huge part in qualifying and race one, and hampered us when accelerating out of the corners.
“For a moment in race three it looked like I'd be leaving Rockingham no longer the leader – it was a bit of a heart-in-mouth moment in the incident with Jason as the outcome could have been very different. But this time a bit of luck was with me while it was Jason's and Fabrizio's turn to suffer a bit of misfortune.
“So now this is it – just the final hurdle to clear but it's a very high hurdle. Jason and Fabrizio are world class drivers so I'll need to be at the top of my game to keep them where they are.”