MOTORSPORT: Colin Turkington and Chris Smiley set for opening British Touring Cars Championship weekend

Colin Turkington ready for another British Touring Car Championship season. Pic courtesy of Colin Turkington.
Colin Turkington ready for another British Touring Car Championship season. Pic courtesy of Colin Turkington.

Colin Turkington has been tipped for British Touring Car Championship title glory but the Northern Ireland driver is playing down his credentials ahead of this weekend’s opening meeting.

Many expect the Portadown-born two-time title winner to add a third crown to his collection over the Dunlop MSA-backed high-profile championship.

Carrick's Chris Smiley.

Carrick's Chris Smiley.

However, Turkington lines out across practice and qualifying on Saturday around the Brands Hatch Indy circuit within a field that features no fewer than five previous champions entering Sunday’s racing.

“There’s a long season ahead and I’m sure we’ll all face our fair share of challenges throughout the year, but the aim is to arrive at the season finale with a shot at the title,” said Turkington. “I enjoyed the 2017 season much more than any year before and I hope that in 2018 we can do more of the same.

“I feel fitter and fresher than ever, one thing I’ve learned from having a career in sport is that every year you must be prepared to work harder than ever and seek improvements in every aspect of your life.

“Every season adds another layer of experience and knowledge and presents another opportunity to arrive better prepared than ever.”

Carrick’s Chris Smiley will compete across his third consecutive campaign, behind the wheel of BTC Norlin Racing’s Honda Civic Type R.

“I’m over the moon to be back with BTC Norlin Racing – even more so with the Honda Civic Type R for 2018,” said Smiley. “This is a hugely exciting time for me, the team and our sponsors, with the Honda being a double championship-winning car.

“My expectations for the coming season are high after producing top tens consistently in the second half of the 2017 season.

“I can’t thank Norlin and Bert Taylor enough for everything they have done for me and ensuring I have the best package possible this coming year.”