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Hill and Turkington excited by ‘intense’ BTCC qualifying shootouts

British Touring Car Championship qualifying kings Jake Hill and Colin Turkington both believe that the series’ expansion of the top-10 qualifying shootout for 2023 will create extra excitement.

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Until now the shootout format has been used on a largely experimental basis, but for this season it will feature at five of the 10 rounds; the first two events at Donington Park and Brands Hatch, along with Oulton Park, Knockhill and Silverstone.

Hill won qualifying bragging rights in 2022 for claiming the Goodyear Wingfoot title based on qualifying points in his first season at the wheel of a West Surrey Racing BMW 330e M Sport, dethroning team-mate and four-time BTCC champion Turkington.

“At least I won one championship!” Hill told Autosport. “It’ll be just get a lap done that gets you in there, and then grab it by the scruff of the neck and go again.

“I love the shootout and everything it has to offer. It’s good fun – it brings a little bit of excitement to us and the fans.”

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“I think it makes qualifying a lot more interesting for everybody – drivers, teams and fans,” added Turkington.

“It’s not something I suppose we’ve had the luxury of focusing on in testing, just because of the limitations of new tyres – we’ve been focusing more on developing the chassis – so that’s something we’re going to wing at the time in the first quali session.

“It definitely adds a bit of intensity to qualifying, because you basically have to replicate that perfect lap twice, and often as we’ve seen in the past the track will move from Q1 to Q2, so it’s trying to understand, ‘OK, what do we need to do to the car to try and compensate?’

“There’s going to be a lot more strategy this year, it’s going to be interesting.”

Colin Turkington

Colin Turkington

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

Hill and Turkington, along with team-mates Stephen Jelley and Adam Morgan, have been focusing on the hard-compound Goodyear rubber in testing to prepare for the return of the option-tyre rule after a one-year hiatus.

The BMW is the only remaining rear-wheel-drive car, and traditionally is slower at switching on its tyres, a factor that is exacerbated when on the hard rubber.

“The hard tyre was a bit of a limitation, so we’ve spent some time working on that,” said Turkington. “But I think the main focus really has just been optimising what we have.

“With Adam and his engineer [Steve Farrell] coming into the team [after Ciceley Motorsport’s pullout] they’ve brought some new ideas, so it’s basically collectively throwing all our ideas into the pot and trying to pick the best of it.

“We’re just trying to perfect what we already have.”

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