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Colin Turkington coy on WSR chances

Colin Turkington is hopeful that he and his West Surrey Racing team can mount another title challenge, but admitted that they still have some learning to do in the final two weeks of the off-season.

Speaking at the series’ media day at Donington Park on Tuesday,  the 2009 champion, who was in contention to take last year’s title after three years away from the series, was confident that while his team still have some work to do, their remaining test sessions would leave them in good shape ahead of the season-opener at Brands Hatch at the end of the month.

“It’s [testing] going okay,” said Turkington to TouringCars.Net. “We haven’t had a huge amount of track time, the car has moved on a little bit from last year but we haven’t really had enough time to assess what we learnt through the winter.

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“I’d like to feel more confident than I do but we’re at Silverstone tomorrow and possibly one more day so hopefully we can keep moving things forward.”

The 31-year-old also believed that a run of regular results – something that was missing in the early stages of the 2013 season – would allow him to build on his fifth place overall finish from last year.

“I think we just need a greater level of consistency compared to last year,” said the Northern Irishman. “We started the season not that quickly because we had a new car but once we found the sweet spot the performance was good so we just need to score well all the time now.

“We just need to increase the number of tracks that favour us really, do away with the ones that we were weak at last year – we need to be stronger so that’s the game plan.”

Turkington believed that although the times set during media day by returning drivers such as Alain Menu and Fabrizio Giovanardi were not representative due to wet conditions at Donington Park, they would still be forces to be reckoned with when the series returns.

“It’s hard to read much into the times today, I had three laps in the dry conditions so it’s not really representative of what we can do. Saying that, those guys are going to be fast, they know how to drive [and] they have the experience so they’re going to be a threat.

“You can’t discount guys like that – they’re going to be strong all the time.”

Team boss Dick Bennetts was also cautious in his assessment of WSR’s pre-season, but was certain that the outfit were in much better shape than they were twelve months ago.

“It’s been pretty reasonable but as per normal it’s hard to know who’s running what boost, who’s running what weight so we’re working away on our test programme and we’ll see when we get to Brands,” said the 67-year-old. “We know where the car is this time – we didn’t have a clue about NGTC, we were in the deep end.

“We’ve been in the wind tunnel now we’ve been on a four poster [test] rig. We’d still like a couple of changes done on the regulations but it’s not allowed – the majority of cars are front-wheel drive and the original concept was front-wheel drive so we feel we’re still a little bit disadvantaged in a couple of areas but at the moment we’re stuck with that.”

While Turkington was the clear lead driver in 2013, his teammates Rob Collard and Nick Foster struggled to get to grips with the squad’s new BMW 125i racer, but Bennett believes their 2014 machine is more suited to all of their drivers.

“I’d like to think so,” said Bennett, when asked if the car was a step forward. “He’s [Rob Collard] much happier with the car now, we’ve made some good changes through the winter so the car is more driveable so now the other two are much closer to Colin.”

Bennett echoed Collard’s views on the importance of staying cool in the opening races of each meeting, given the size of the series’ grids for this year.

“Finish race one because it’s points in the bag,” said the New Zealander. “If you don’t finish race one you start 31st in race two – what chance have you got then of getting a reverse grid?

“As long as we can give the drivers reliable cars that are competitive then don’t take any risks, it’s a long championship.”

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