Catching up with: James Turkington - MINI CHALLENGE

The younger brother of two-time British Touring Car champion Colin, will join the MINI CHALLENGE this season.

The 22-year-old from Portadown, Northern Ireland, has chosen to make his first full-time foray into racing on the British mainland in one of the championship’s new F56 JCW cars this year. Turkington will race in the new MINI UK VIP Customer Team.

The arrival of Turkington Jr to the grid further strengthens the MINI CHALLENGE’s link to the BTCC, with several active touring car teams – including Team Dynamics, Eurotech Racing and Power Maxed – already contesting the UK’s fastest MINI series.

Turkington made his car racing debut in the Northern Irish Ford Fiesta series and last year gained further experience by racing a SEAT Leon Supercopa in his homeland. He has tested his new F56 JCW machine recently.

“I’m really excited to be joining the MINI CHALLENGE this year,” said Turkington. “The championship is growing really fast and the arrival of the new car has brought a new element to it. When I was looking at options to race this year it really appealed to me.

“The F56 JCW car is amazing. I’m used to high-powered front-wheel-drive cars from racing the 300bhp SEAT last year. The MINI has pretty much the same power but I had to adapt to the sequential gearbox and also sitting on the right hand side of the car. It took a few laps to get my head around but after that I started feeling really comfortable and loved it.

“I’ve only raced in mainland Britain once [Brands Hatch, 2013] so I’ll be visiting a load of new tracks in a new car. It will be a steep learning curve but I’m really looking forward to it.”

Colin Turkington has previously tested the older-generation R56 JCW Challenge car, and James added his brother’s recommendation helped him decide on the MINIs.

“Colin really enjoyed the older MINI and suggested I tried the new one,” added James. “I have no doubt that he’ll turn up at a few rounds and offer me some advice across the course of the year.”

PHOTO BY MICK WALKER