Things looked tough for Northern Irishman Colin Turkington as he lined up against six other former champions at the start of the British Touring Car Championship.
The team that prepared his eBay Motors-backed BMW 125i M Sport spent time in the wind tunnel over the winter, in the end finding a specification that totally refined the car. But reigning champion Andrew Jordan hit the ground running in his Pirtek Racing Honda Civic Type-R, and it wasn’t until after Thruxton in May, the third meeting, that the refreshed BMW got on a roll.
That was partly thanks to a set-up gamble on the part eBay Motors BMW team boss Dick Bennetts, who was engineering the team's second 1-series, driven by Rob Collard. After scratching their heads at Thruxton, Bennetts threw caution to the wind with a radical new set-up which transformed the BMW's handling. The set-up was then tried on Turkington's car, which flew thereafter.
But there was a cloud. Jason Plato in his KX Clubcard Fuel Save MG6 was the most vociferous in complaining that rear-wheel drive machines, such as the BMWs, had an advantage at the start of the race. Officials looked took a view and mandated a revised first gear ratio to nulify some of the cars' gain.
Then there was astonishment at how the BMW could carry the 45kg of success ballast into each meeting and still fight. Turkington said the ballast allowed him to alter the weight distribution and ‘settle’ the lively rear axle, so it was in fact handing him an advantage.
As a result, the ballast couldn’t take the shine off a summer in which Turkington snatched six victories and asserted himself at the top of the BTCC table. More impressive was his comeback from 27th to fourth in race two at Knockhill in August after he had been shunted off the road in race one. As he said at the time, the result in Fife was a pivotal moment.