HE is known as the ‘King of Croft’ thanks to his 12 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship victories at the North Yorkshire circuit, and Colin Turkington is targeting more success when he returns to his happiest of hunting grounds this weekend.

Turkington sits joint top of the BTCC drivers’ rankings ahead of this weekend’s three races at Croft, having claimed two victories from this year’s nine outings.

His new BMW 3 Series has performed impressively in the early weeks of the season, and with BMW boasting an extremely strong record at Croft, there is every chance things could get even better over the next two days.

Croft’s winter resurfacing work means no one can be quite sure how the track will race this weekend, but if anyone can master it in a couple of practice outings, Turkington is surely that man.

“I’m always excited about going to Croft,” said Turkington, who is chasing a fourth BTCC drivers’ crown. “It’s my favourite circuit on the calendar with a lot of happy memories, and I think we’re in good shape.

“The track has been resurfaced for this year and we’re bringing the new BMW 3 Series there for the first time so there will obviously be some learning to do, but we know what’s made us fast at Croft in the past so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be strong again.

“The first complex is the place to watch from - that’s where the action is. Actually, turn one is probably my favourite corner because it’s much faster than you think it should be, so you’ve really got to commit through there. There’s always a lively enthusiastic crowd at Croft, and I definitely feed off that.”

Turkington’s position at the top of the standings mean he will have to overcome some ballast this weekend, with this morning’s qualifying session likely to prove crucial to his race prospects over the remainder of the two days.

“I’ll be qualifying with some weight in the car so will need to ensure I maximise everything from myself and the BMW – accurate engineering and bravery will be the difference between a good qualifying and a great one,” said Turkington.

“It feels like Thruxton was ages ago, but that time was important to understand the development of the new 3 Series, analyse my performance and identify areas where we can improve before we plan our next attack.”

Turkington’s Team BMW team-mate, Tom Oliphant, claimed two race victories at Croft in 2015 in the Ginetta GT4 SuperCup, and proved his potential at BTCC level earlier this season when he claimed a podium finish at Donington Park.

“I’ve been looking forward to Croft all year,” said Oliphant. “It’s been a track that I’ve loved in the past and whilst it certainly wasn’t the easiest of weekends for me last year, I still managed to get something out of it points-wise.

“I’m excited to go back in a rear wheel-drive car. The 3 Series should, theoretically, be well-suited to the circuit, but we need to consider that they’ve resurfaced the track recently and, according to everyone that’s tested there, that has added a lot of grip and reduced tyre degradation because it’s now a lot smoother.

“That may mean the rear wheel-drives no longer have the advantage that they usually do, and the 3 Series is also obviously a brand new car this year.

“There are a lot of unknowns so the weekend might throw up a few surprises.

“My aim, though, is clear. I’m carrying no ballast and going there with the target of putting it on pole position – and from there, anything is possible.”

Today’s BTCC qualifying session begins at 3.05pm and will last for 30 minutes, with tomorrow’s three 15-lap races scheduled for 12.05, 14.40 and 17.05pm.