You could have been forgiven for thinking an imposter had emerged from one of West Surrey Racing’s BMW 330is as the 2019 British Touring Car Championship concluded at Brands Hatch.
In ordinary circumstances, Colin Turkington is as mild of manner as he is precise of line, but on this occasion, the Ulsterman burst from the cockpit and punched the air repeatedly as a muffled “Yes, yes, yes!” echoed from somewhere within a fire-resistant balaclava.
The trigger for this uncharacteristic outburst had been a splendid rise from 25th on the grid to sixth at the flag – although that alone would not have been enough to clinch him a fourth series title. The pivotal moment came less than two laps from the flag, when brake failure sent rival Dan Cammish’s Honda into the tyre wall at Hawthorns. It was tough on Cammish, who had hitherto completed every racing lap of the season, but defeat would have been equally harsh on Turkington, who had been placed on the back foot after being punted from contention – by Cammish’s team-mate, Matt Neal – at the dawn of race two. Once he’d calmed down, Turkington described it as the “race of his life” – and with reason.
A teenage autograss racer from Portadown, Turkington began competing on the UK mainland in the late 1990s. There was no specific career plan – he had followed in the wheel tracks of his brother, Gary, who raced in Formulas Ford and Renault – but he drifted into professional racing after winning the 2001 Ford Credit Fiesta Zetec championship.
He made his BTCC debut the following season, in an MG ZS sponsored by pop trio Atomic Kitten, and he has been part of the landscape for all but a couple of seasons since. He secured his first race win in 2003 and his maiden title in 2009, when he joined a distinguished cast of alumni that includes Jim Clark, Jack Sears, Sir John Whitmore, John Fitzpatrick and Gabriele Tarquini. For 33 years, though, Andy Rouse had stood alone as the only driver with four championships to his name. As of now, he has company.
Cammish has succeeded at every other level he has contested – including winning all 24 races he started en route to lifting the 2013 British Formula Ford title. His time will come.