"Fernando Alonso fired me off into the wall at Indianapolis.” If that sounds alarming, never fear: Darren Turner is only talking ‘virtually’. Like many of his friends and contemporaries, the 46-year-old Aston Martin Racing GTE driver has used esports to keep his hand in during lockdown and has enjoyed sparring with such luminaries, but he is now revving up for a return to real-world racing – plus an exciting new test and development role for the British Touring Car Championship.

Turner raced in the BTCC in 2006-2008, winning five races for Seat, before Le Mans and sports car racing with Aston became his main focus. Now he is returning to the BTCC, not to race but to develop the series’ new hybrid system, due to become mandatory in 2022. The intensive test programme begins this week, with Turner driving at Snetterton for two days in a Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Corolla fitted with the new Cosworth Electronics system.

Adding to the spectacle

BTCC boss Alan Gow made the call for Turner to help. “Presumably, they need someone independent of the championship,” says Turner. “I’ve always had a good relationship with Alan since my own BTCC days.”

Hybrid technology has dual benefits for the BTCC, pulling it closer into line with road car marketing while also adding a potential ingredient to spice up the show – something never far from the top of Gow’s agenda. “Introducing a hybrid is right for the BTCC, but it needs to add to the racing and not be detrimental,” says Turner.

2 Toyota corolla

“The plan is for this to enhance the show, with more scope for overtaking and also to be used in defensive mode too, to add a bit more strategy.”