TO win four competitive motor-racing titles in a career spanning just five seasons is no mean achievement, but to do so by dint of spectacular giant-killing routines makes people sit up and pay attention.

The attention seeker is 25-year-old Falkirk graduate engineer Colin Gallie, who is about to join the hard school of British touring car championship competition with its greater exposure to television audiences, and tougher and rougher driving opposition. However, unlike many fellow racers, Gallie's prime motivation does not involve emulating Damon Hill by driving single-seater, open-wheeled cars nor aspiring to Formula One.

Gallie is dedicated to handling saloons, sedans, touring cars, or tin tops, and to date his choice has been BMW, BMW or BMW. On Easter Monday in the parkland setting of Donington, another example of the Bav- arian marque will be pressed into service as Gallie plans his next move onwards and upwards.

This time it will be a #100,000 320i. Circa 1995, the car, raced but never rallied, is a former Italian Bigazzi team machine. Its purchase price represents around one third of the 1997 Gallie motorsport budget, and gains him entry to the Total Cup for independent teams.

In layman's terms that means privateers who dispute the non-works series within a series. Even if they are not sinking the #5m plus invested by most ''factory'' outfits the professionalism needed to succeed among the supporting cast dictates employing specialist expertise. While the Total Cup winner stands to net #60,000 the likely bill for tyres along during the 12-meeting challenge is at least #30,000.

Dave Cook Racing of York, which prepared works Vauxhall Cavaliers in the past, is running Gallies pristine Bee Emm, which will be white but incorporate the Saltire.

Gallie's car has arrived after two successful years behind the wheel of John Clark's previous generation M3 BMW.

Clark, who races an Austin Healey Sprite in historic events, has been patron and benefactor to Gallie, faith repaid by the 1995 Scottish super-saloon championship and last year's British Formula Saloon's series crown.

Clark's class BM3 had around 295bhp but upstaged class A rivals in cars boasting at least 300bhp more, and won its class in seven of the eight rounds. More significantly, Gallie consistently contested the top five outright places with more muscular oppo- sition.

It is a habit he picked up during two seasons on board a 1971 vintage 2002tii BMW when he humbled drivers of Ford Escort turbos and Sierra Cosworths round the Knockhill track. These feats generated consecutive class champ- ionships.

Gallie outraced modern machinery in what amounted to an historic saloon, albeit an immaculately prepared example of the Bavarian breed.

Father and arch-supporter Eric Gallie, who has helped underwrite his son's campaigns to date, said: ''Colin was able to strip down motor-cycle engines when he was 12, and over the past three years the only mechanical problem was a broken throttle cable.''

Colin Gallie is bracing himself for a robust form of the sport and lists German Jo Winkelock as a role model. ''Smokin' Jo'' is not renowned in the sport for shirking the occasional body contact.

Aware that moving up to BTCC combat is a major step, Gallie, none the less, believes in the edict that ''racing is racing'' in whatever arena.

He reasoned: ''With the scale of our programme, I will be able to concentrate on the job of race driving instead of preparing the car, driving the truck, and doing all the other jobs involved in helping run your own team.'' Formula Saloon racing earned Gallie success and knowledge of most of Britain's race tracks, bar Silverstone, which will be invaluable when joining the BTCC circus. It is a happy co-incidence that his favourite venue, Donington, hosts the opening race.

Leisure and construction interests are likely to form part of the Gallie sponsorship package when the car is rolled out next month. Eric Gallie pointed out that the budget is incomplete and there is space for hire left on the BMW.

If BTCC racing got rave reviews and commanded packed houses round the tracks and in front of televisions in recent years, then this season promises even more exposure.

With Formula One defecting to ITV, the BBC will major on the 12 touring-car rounds. Air time is doubled to one hour each meeting, with a trio of double-header races covered live by Grandstand, including Knockhill.