PREDICTS SUBARU GAINS
Race winner Colin Turkington says he has only scratched the surface with the potential of the factory-supported Subaru Levorg British Touring Car Championship machine after taking his first win of 2016 at Oulton Park last weekend.
The Northern Irishman qualified on pole position for the first of the weekend’s three races in Cheshire and powered to a race one win, before following that up with second place in the second race and seventh position in the finale.
His team-mate, double champion Jason Plato, took three podiums on a remarkable turn around for the Team Bmr-operated machines.
“This is just the start of the journey with this car,” said Turkington, who has moved in to 13th in the standings after 12 rounds. “We have got something to work with now and we will only improve.”
Reaching the top
It has been a tough birth for the Subaru programme and its two-litre turbocharged flat-four cylinder engine.
The powerplant – which had to be delivered from Japan as it is not on sale in the UK – was only received by engine tuners Mountune at the end of January. That meant that there was not time to homologate a proper inlet system and, up until the Oulton Park rounds last weekend, it was using the system from the road car.
Now, however, the team has been allowed to switch to a bespoke unit and that has transformed the output of the motor.
Allied to that, the team had suffered serious problems with the design of the high-pressure fuel rail, which failed on James Cole’s machine at Donington Park in April and caused a major fire.
The team reworked the system ahead of Thruxton, but found a similar failure was possible so chose to withdraw all four machines – including that of team principal Warren Scott – following qualifying.
The team went to Pembrey for an intensive test session before Oulton Park to work on the new fuel system and to assess the new inlet manifold. The results were positive and that was the reason the cars showed a lot more pace last weekend.
Along with the inlet manifold tweak, the team also had a reduction in turbo boost leading up to the event, although BTCC technical officials said they would look again at the boost levels once they had collected data.
Turkington said that the team still had plenty of work to do on the Levorg. “We have to improve the straight-line speed of the car, but there are many, many areas to work on,” he explained.
“We got pole and won that first race with no ballast, and even though we went in to race two with 75kg, we were helped that Oulton is a track that is always rear-wheel-drive friendly and one where it is hard to overtake.
“Our programme is still very new, don’t forget. We were strong at Thruxton in free practice, but that was under the radar because we didn’t get to race. Every time we are taking to the circuit, we are getting a little bit more from the car. We need to continue that progress to be truly competitive – and it is a very tight championship this season.”
Plato was also on the pace at Oulton Park and scored just two points less than Turkington by taking three third placed finishes. He reverted to a more basic set-up after having previously worked on unlocking secrets from the dampers and reaped the rewards.
“As soon as I had made that change for the second free practice session and qualifying, I knew I had a proper racing car underneath me and something I could work with,” Plato explained.
“I was really at one with the car, and I was able to make it dance – which is the first time in a long time I have had a car like that.
“We really needed a result like this. That was for the team, which has worked hard, and for Subaru and our backers. Having to withdraw from Thruxton was a real kick in the teeth that no one could have predicted and we needed to get the ball rolling.
“The exciting thing for me is that we are only looking ahead now, and there are good things down the road for us.”
Turkington has opened 2016 account Turkington: a highly profitable weekend Cole had Donington blaze