Team BMW will defend the Dunlop MSA BritishTouring Car Championship Teams’ and Manufacturers’ titles with an unchanged driver line-up of Colin Turkington and Rob Collard in 2018.
The WSR-run team enjoyed a superb 2017season as Colin and Rob claimed 20 podium finishes in their BMW 125i M Sports and finished second and fifth in the drivers’ championship.
Colin, from Portadown, is one of the most successful BTCC racers of all time. He took the title in 2009 and 2014 as well as five independents’ titles and 45 race wins.
In 2017 he claimed four victories – including a landmark 100th for BMW in the BTCC at Thruxton in May – and took the fight for the drivers’ championship to the season’s final race before cruel luck denied him the chance of a third crown.
This year marks the Northern Irishman’s 12th season with WSR; his history with the team including both of his BTCC crowns and a race-winning stint in the FIA World Touring Car Championship.
“I’m excited for the new season and delighted to be staying with Team BMW and WSR for another year," said Turkington.
"This place feels like home to me, having raced here for 11 years already, and the environment is exactly what I need to get the best performance out of myself.
"I was bitterly disappointed to miss out on the drivers’ championship at the season finale last year and I’ll continue to put everything into winning the title this time around.
"The BMW 125i M Sport has won more titles than any other car in the past five years and the developments we’ve already tested for 2018 look like they’re going to make us even stronger, but we know that the competition won’t stand still so we’re expecting a tight battle.”
Rob, from Eversley, Hampshire, is another driver to have forged a long and successful relationship with WSR, having first driven for the team 13 years ago.
The 2003 BTCC independents’ champion has claimed 12 of his 14 career wins with the organisation, including his maiden success at Knockhill in 2005.
Last year was his most successful to date as he scored points in the first 21 races and podiums at the opening six events; achievements unmatched by any other driver.
He remained in title contention until he was cruelly forced to miss the final five races due to the effects of a heavy crash at Silverstone in which he was an innocent victim.
“The 2017 season was my most competitive to date in the BTCC and had I not missed the final five races, I’m certain I would have been in with a very strong chance of being champion.
"I’m fully recovered, have been training hard and can’t wait to get back behind the wheel of the BMW for the first test of the new year. This will be my ninth straight season with WSR and my 11th in total.
"Over that time my performances have improved year-on-year and I’ve played a key role in several title-winning campaigns. The drivers’ championship is my goal for 2018, and with the team continuing to evolve the car, I’m confident of fighting at the front.”
Colin and Rob will, as in 2017, be joined by Andrew Jordan in a third 125i M Sport, which will be run under the BMW Pirtek Racing banner.
Andrew, the 2013 BTCC champion, won three times in his maiden season with WSR and led more distance than any other driver on his way to ninth place in the end-of-season points.
With a year’s experience of a rear-wheel-drive touring car under his belt, the 28-year-old from Lichfield, Staffordshire, is excited about the coming season.
WSR’s trio of BMWs have undergone a number of developments over the winter break, aimed at enhancing the car’s already legendary performance and reliability. The car has won six overall BTCC titles in its five years of competition and is set for more success in 2018.
“This is the most excited I’ve been about a new BTCC season for a long time," said Jordan.
"Having the continuity of a second year with WSR and the vast engineering resource and experience they have will be a huge benefit to me.
"I was delighted to win three times with BMW Pirtek Racing in 2017 and lead the most distance, and now, with a year’s experience of a rear-wheel-drive touring car under my belt, I’m very confident of being a consistent challenger throughout the year.
"If we can achieve this as a team, there’s no reason why we can’t challenge for the championship.”
“We’re very pleased to again be given the responsibility of representing BMW in the BTCC," added WSR Team Principal Dick Bennetts.
"We won the manufacturers’ title and made Team BMW teams’ champions in 2017, but now the target is to add another drivers’ crown. In Colin, Rob and AJ, we have three extremely strong drivers who all won races last year and know what it takes to be a champion in this series, while in the BMW 125i M Sport, we have a car that’s undergone constant engineering development since 2013 and which has won six overall titles in the past five years.
"While the level of competitiveness in the BTCC seems to rise year-on-year, we’ve proved ourselves as consistent front-runners and again aim for silverware come the end of the season.”