Defending Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship title winner Colin Turkington has admitted that - as things stand - he won't be on the grid for the opening rounds of the 2010 season at Thruxton.

Turkington secured his maiden title in dramatic fashion in the 2009 season finale at Brands Hatch, but has run into problems securing the funding needed to return to West Surrey Racing to defend his title.

Although WSR has already signed Andy Neate and Rob Collard for the year ahead, team boss Dick Bennetts has made no secret of his desire to get a third BMW 320si on the grid for Turkington - who has raced for the team for all but one season since debuting in the BTCC back in 2002.

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However, speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Turkington revealed that he has been unable to secure the funding needed to retain his seat, admitting that his struggle is a 'reflection of the difficult time all businesses are experiencing'.

While there are still two weeks before the 2010 season gets underway for Turkington and WSR to try and find the funding required, the Northern Irishman admitted that he was facing up to the prospect of not defending his crown.

"Motor racing at this level is a business, an expensive business, and while Dick has made it clear he wants me back in the team it has to be paid for and we haven't been able to come up with the money," the champion reflected. "It is as simple as that. It means I won't be defending my title when the season starts at Thruxton over Easter weekend. I'm devastated to be honest -- but never say never.

"I'm still trying my best to find the funding and West Surrey have a car there for me if something can be sorted out for later in the season, but even if that happens I wouldn't be in a position to fight for the championship. After the highs of winning last season it is hard to get your head round the fact it is all over -- for now at least."