Team spirit: BTCC stars Colin Turkington and Tom Oliphant
CT: It adds expectation. You think of the great teams and drivers that have gone before you in the BTCC, particularly in the early 1990s. I grew up watching Steve Soper and Jo Winkelhock, so you are honoured to take the baton. Ask any driver on the grid and they’d want to be in our seats. But that makes you hungry to give your best performance.
What’s the dynamic between you both? You are rivals, but you have to work together too.
TO: It is a very difficult dynamic. When I chose to join WSR and Team BMW in 2019 the first question I had was ‘is Colin staying?’ I was joining was not only to get the best car and opportunity, it was to learn and partner one of the most successful BTCC. Off the track, we get on really well and that’s important, and we work well as an engineering team. We can both drive consistently so we can try different set-ups. But ultimately there will always be times on track where we don’t treat each other as fairly as we should! Every racing driver, as soon as you put on that helmet, has to be a selfish person.
This car is in its third year now. Is there more to find from the 330i M Sport?
CT: With these cars it’s a lot easier to make them slower than faster. Back in 2019 the car came off the production line a winner and won its second race. But of course there’s always performance to find, that’s why we go testing and develop during the winter to find gains in the chassis. But there’s probably more to come from the driver, just being in the car. The modern-day BTCC car is not easy to drive, it’s a black art and that’s why the guys who have been doing it a long time generally do well. They understand the car and tyre. Plus the championship organisers want to keep it close and the whole ethos is unpredictability. Whenever you think you are up the road and have a march on the other teams it’s nullified.
TO: The way to get speed in a championship is to have a car that works well with weight [success ballast] and without. We go up to 75kg which is a large amount so we have to adapt to minimise that loss. That’s where you find the most gain, rather than chasing pace.
Source@Tautocar.co.uk: Read more at: Best Sport Cars