The ultra-competitive British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) opened its 2023 season at a damp Donington Park this past weekend, and the BMWs run by West Surrey Racing (WSR) scored two podium finishes in the first three races. WSR is running four of the BMW 330e Hybrid cars in the BTCC this year, with Colin Turkington, Adam Morgan, and Stephen Jelley driving for Team BMW and Jake Hill in a fourth car for Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport, which has a different name, but is also campaigned by WSR.
After Hill and Turkington qualified in third and fourth on the grid for the opening race, Hill managed to get into the lead while Turkington had contact with another car that put him off the track. Hill lost the lead to eventual race winner Dan Cammish in a Ford ST MK.III with two laps to go and finished in second. Adam Morgan was the best of the rest of the BMW drivers in seventh, while Turkington ended up in twelfth and Jelley in 22nd.
Adam Morgan had a great drive in race two to finish second behind winner Thomas Chilton in a Hyundai i30N, and Stephen Jelley wasn’t far behind in fourth. Both BMWs benefited from a strategy call to put on rain tires instead of slicks as rain started to fall just before the race. Colin Turkington finished in eighth, while Jake Hill ended up in sixteenth. In the final race three, Jake Hill charged from sixteenth place to fourth as Dan Cammish won again in his Ford. Turkington ended up fifth, while Jelley and Morgan finished in 20th and 22nd respectively.
Jake Hill left Donington ranked third in points, which he was satisfied with. “To be third in the points is a nice surprise, but I was pretty happy with what we learned about the BMW–in the last race especially,” he said. “We were really storming through what was quite a clean race in really difficult conditions. The car was great so huge credit to WSR and Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport. We’ve scored good points, had a car quick enough to get fastest lap in race three, but just made a collective error to stay out too long on slicks as the rain got heavier in race two. We’ve proven we can be quick in wet conditions and that’s a great takeaway.”
The next three rounds of the BTCC are at the Brands Hatch circuit on May 6th-7th. You can see more information on the series at the BTCC website. —David Haueter
[Photos courtesy WSR]