2021 BTCC is Go!
Team BMW kicked off its 2021 British Touring Car Championship campaign at Thruxton in changeable weather conditions.
Team BMW’s push for a record-breaking sixth consecutive British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) title began at Thruxton – the UK’s fastest circuit. Last year’s drivers Colin Turkington and Tom Oliphant were joined by Stephen Jelley in an expanded three-driver line-up; all racing the BMW 330i M Sport – entering its third BTCC season.
The BMW trio collected eight points finishes from a total of nine starts during the weekend to leave BMW second in the Manufacturers’ standings. Four-time champion Turkington bagged the best finish of the weekend with sixth in Race Three, the Northern Irishman opted for wet tyres on the grid as rain began to fall at the start. Earlier on he had finished 10th and seventh and emerged from the weekend sitting seventh in the points standings as a result.
Oliphant was unfortunate to be forced into a spin on the first lap of the opening race, he fell from fifth to 27th but he put in an inspiring a comeback drive to finish the race in 15th spot, he added to that with 10th in Race Two. Drawn second on Race Three’s reversed grid, Oliphant chose to stay on slick tyres (unlike his teammate Turkington) and it almost paid off – the Leamington Spa racer fell to 19th but climbed back to second before further rain late into the race caused him to drop to seventh.
In his first weekend with the team Jelley climbed from 18th to eighth early in Race One, but he was unfortunate to retire with a transmission issue that put him 27th on the grid for the next race. An impressive recovery to 11th became pole position for the finale courtesy of the reversed-grid draw. He opted for wet tyres and ran inside the top three until the track dried which saw him fall back into the hands of his slick-shod rivals – he finished 10th.
Colin Turkington said: “The goal for the weekend was three points finishes, and we’ve achieved that. Race Three, especially, was tough with the changing weather conditions. I chose wet tyres because they were the lower-risk option and I honestly don’t think slicks would have got me more than one place higher, so I was satisfied with the result there, especially given that I had a back issue yesterday. We’ll go to Snetterton – a track where we had an incredible weekend last year – with minimal success ballast and that should put us in a good position to really use the BMW to the maximum.”
The next race weekend takes place at Snetterton in Norfolk.