Colin Turkington says his third British Touring Car Championship title ranks as the most special after a difficult year off-circuit for the Team BMW racer.
The Northern Irishman showed mental resilience on Finals Day at Brands Hatch, with 22nd in the second contest despite a run through the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend enough to secure the crown ahead of Tom Ingram.
In doing so he joins an elite group of eight drivers to have lifted the UK’s most coveted tin-top prize on three occasions.
His success was underpinned by the Teams’ and Manufacturers’ titles for West Surrey Racing and BMW respectively as the outfit proved themselves – and the BMW 1-series – to be the class of the field once again.
Speaking to TouringCars.net, Turkington underlined his huge satisfaction at sealing a third crown.
“This morning I was only a Double Champion, and you’re never sure it’s going your way,” said Turkington.
“I kept telling myself in my head that I would do it, and even when the chips are down you’ve got to keep believing.
“Nobody ever wins this championship by a breeze; I’m just so satisfied for the team, for BMW, for my family and pleased to be able to get the trophy and hand it over to them.
“It’s been the most challenging year of my life off the circuit and the BTCC was the one thing that kept me happy. Coming over here and getting some results, building a championship was a ray of light and kept me focused.
“You need to have something that consumes your mind and is a distraction, and the racing was such a good distraction because I could get my emotion out [in it], I could train hard for the racing and take my mind off reality, and that was so important for me; once I’d jumped on a plane over to the UK you forget about home for three days, and then you go home and live normal lives. I’m very fortunate that I had this to help me through.
“At the same time, I’m just relieved that it’s all over. It’s [been] a mental torture, these last few weeks. To be a Triple Champion, I think I join a group of eight drivers. My goal as a kid was just to win it once and you don’t set targets beyond that; I know Andy Rouse has won four, but I’m so happy with three!
“It is the most special, for all those reasons.”
Reflecting on the moment he took the chequered flag and was confirmed as the BTCC’s 60th Anniversary ‘Diamond’ Champion, Turkington admitted that, even once WSR had confirmed he had done enough, the nature of the situation can still pose a few nerves.
“They told me I’d done enough, but still you’re never sure,” he admitted.
“You can never take anything for granted and you’ve always got the slight fear that someone’s got the calculations wrong. It’s such a precious thing to win, that until you get to now when you know it’s definitely, definitely, definitely yours…
“I think that when there’s one race to go, it’s almost hard for your mind to believe that it’s over before it is actually over, you always think ‘Could something go wrong? Could they take this off me?’. That’s why it’s such mixed emotions.”