2009 BTCC champion Colin Turkington (Pete Mainey)
Colin Turkington has said that he will not be able to return to the British Touring Car Championship this year and attempt to retain the title he won in 2009.

Turkington has said that he does not have the necessary funding in place to secure a drive with a team for this season, which begins at Thruxton on April 4. RAC ended their sponsorship of Colin's team West Surrey Racing at the end of 2009, and the team have failed to find a replacement. They have signed Rob Collard to drive alongside Andy Neate, Chief Technology Officer of team sponsor Ceravision. WSR boss Dick Bennetts has said he has a third BMW 320si ready for Colin, should he find the money to pay for it.

There is no doubt that motorsport is an expensive business, but for the champion not to have a drive is insane. No offence to the 'lesser' drivers in the series, but they manage to find the sponsors, so why can't Colin. Sponsoring Colin brings better value for money for brands, with the company name featuring heavily in series promotional material and TV coverage, which includes live raceday coverage of all three races on ITV4 and highlights packages on ITV1. WSR ran a three-car team at the end of last year, so Colin's car should not require any more funding than a one-car independent team nearer the back of the field. Interested firms could have been given the naming rights to Colin's car, meaning he would have been run under a different banner to Collard and Neate, a technique that is often found in other series, such as the DTM and V8 Supercars. Colin's car would continue to be part of the WSR team, and sponsoring his car would offer better value for sponsors, as it has the #1 on the door and is driven by possibly the most popular driver in the series.

Up until now, Colin and his team would have been chasing sponsors by going directly to companies. I anticipate that the media coverage of Colin's plight will show companies that Colin is desperate for backers, and that new companies will be interested in contacting him. It is important that companies are made aware of the benefits of sponsoring Colin.

In order to help generate interest, I have created a Facebook group, which aims to show to companies the interest that there is in Colin being on the 2010 grid. Colin's younger brother has already told me he is impressed with the amount of support it has received from fans. 

Both Jason Plato and Mat Jackson salvaged late sponsorship deals at the beginning of last season, having been left without drives.

Meanwhile, the rest of the BTCC grid is taking shape, ahead of the Media Day next Tuesday. I will publish my 2010 season preview next Friday. Follow @Frontofthegrid for the latest updates.

Photo Credit: Pete Mainey

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