Ups and Downs for Airwaves BMW at Brands Hatch Airwaves BMW saw a glorious end to the 2009 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship snatched away in the final race of the day at Brands Hatch. The Kent-based squad was looking to finish a fine...
Ups and Downs for Airwaves BMW at Brands Hatch
Airwaves BMW saw a glorious end to the 2009 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship snatched away in the final race of the day at Brands Hatch.
The Kent-based squad was looking to finish a fine season with a flourish at its home venue, and bagged solid top six finishes in the first two outings before suffering at the hands of rivals in the last race of the BTTC calendar.
Drivers Rob Collard and Jonny Adam scorched into podium positions at the start of race three and looked certain to have a shot at a race win, before being both being removed from the track by those behind them and enduring a cruel end to the final race meeting of 2009.
Earlier in the day the bight sunny conditions were perfect for racing as the Airwaves BMW duo of Collard and Adam lined up on the grid for race one in seventh and eighth respectively. With three of the factory Vauxhalls directly in front of them the Airwaves BMW pairing knew they would have a tough task on their hands to move up the order, and that was made no easier when the safety car came out almost immediately after the race began due to Matt Hamilton spinning off. When the race resumed on lap four Collard and Adam began pushing hard to find a way past Matt Neal, but once again had their efforts thwarted by the yellow flag on lap ten after former F1 star Johnny Adam went off due to a puncture. When the green flag appeared on lap 14 Collard was all over the bumper of Neal again, but the Vauxhall driver used all his experience to make himself into a moving road block and the Airwaves BMW driver couldn't find a gap before the 18 lap race concluded. That meant Collard and Adam picked up solid sixth and seventh places after driving a tidy race.
The second race of the saw the atmosphere crank up a notch as the title battle neared it conclusion. With Colin Turkington, Fabrizio Giovanardi and Jason Plato all still in the hunt the Airwaves BMW drivers were looking to steal a march as the others battled and hunt down a podium finish. Both got a great start and moved up into fourth and fifth position after the first corner, but Matt Hamilton once again left the track almost straight away and brought out the yellow flag on the first lap. It was lap five before the safety car pulled in but when it did Rob Collard was straight on to attacking reigning champion Giovanardi ahead of him in third. Collard and Adam formed part of a breakaway group at the front as they followed Chilton, Plato and Giovanardi in stretching away from the rest of the field in the early stages. However, in the second half of the race championship leader Colin Turkington began to charge after finally getting past Vauxhall's Andy Jordan. On lap 13 he managed to squeeze past Jonny Adam and push the Airwaves BMW into sixth. It was a breathless finish to the race as Turkington closed on the leading group, and he Collard, Giovanardi and Plato duked it out over the podium positions. In the end Airwaves BMW driver Collard had to settle for fourth as the title rivals locked out the top three spots, while team-mate Jonny Adam took a fine fifth after another steady performance amid the mayhem.
Race three's reverse grid draw saw the Airwaves BMW pair of Adam and Collard placed fourth and fifth, with the Ford Focus of Tom Chilton just in front of them and the championship title contenders Turkington, Giovanardi and Plato directly behind them. The start couldn't have gone better for the Airwaves BMW drivers as they got off to a flyer and snatched second and third positions before the first corner. Their luck didn't hold though as both were unceremoniously fired off the track by opponents on the first lap. Rob Collard's race was over after he struck the barriers, however team-mate Jonny Adam did manage to get back on the black stuff and the subsequent safety car allowed him to close up to the pack again, albeit right at the tail. While the title was being decided at the front end of the field Adam used the rest of the race to fight his way back up the order in an impressive display, eventually taking eight place and enough points to elevate him a couple of places in the championship standings -- a small consolation after a very tough outing for his team.
The results at the final round mean that Airwaves BMW secured fourth in the overall teams' championship, and third in the independent teams' standings.
Airwaves BMW driver Rob Collard clinched sixth in the overall drivers' table while finishing fourth in the independents' championship.
Team-mate Jonny Adam took a fine eighth place in the overall drivers' standings and sixth in the independent drivers' championship.
Airwaves BMW Team Principal David Bartrum said:
"First of all I'd like to congratulate Colin Turkington and WSR on their title win, they deserved it and it was a good day for BMW. Rob and Jonny drove really well today and it's a shame other people spoiled their good work. Everyone in the team has worked their socks off this season and we've shown we can be a major player in this championship throughout the year. We will now go away and test, raise a good budget and come back to the championship next year knowing what we have to do to be successful. I'd also like to say thank you to all our sponsors and supporters for everything they have done this year, we've received some tremendous backing and we're very grateful for that. Hopefully everyone will sit up and take notice of the things we've been doing both on and off the track and follow us next year as we look to kick up another gear and improve once again."
Airwaves BMW Team driver Rob Collard said:
"I just feel so, so sorry for the team for what happened in the last race. All the boys in the garage worked hard to give us a car that was capable of winning and for it to finish in that way was bitterly disappointing for everyone. We got a great start and the car felt fantastic and Jonny and I had been on a good pace all day, so I'm sure we could've gone on to challenge for the win. To end up with both cars being taken out is hard to take. I actually feel there have been a number of incidents this year that have cost us, through no fault of our own, otherwise we could've been three or four places higher in the championship. Overall it has been a pretty good year though. The Airwaves BMW team has been great to work with and the car has been superb all season long, so hopefully we can continue building together and come back even stronger next season."
Airwaves BMW Team driver Jonny Adam said:
"I really enjoyed today's racing up until that last race. I think it was disgusting what Matt Neal did, he just lined me up, didn't brake and took me out. I probably made my best start of the season and both Rob and I were right up there, so that it was hard to have that taken away like that. Still, I managed to get going again and I knew that if I could score some points I could gain some places in the championship standings. I just got my head down and kept picking them off, and to get back up to eighth wasn't too bad after what had happened. It has certainly been an eventful first year in the BTCC for me, and I've learned a massive amount. I had targeted finishing in the top ten of the championship, so to get eighth overall against a field of this quality is pleasing. I have to say a massive thank you to David Bartrum and the team for giving me the opportunity to show what I can do. I couldn't have been with a better bunch of people in my first season in the BTCC and it's been a privilege to race for them."
-credit: air bmw