Collard powers to podium at Rockingham
A hard fought weekend at Rockingham Motor Speedway saw HM Plant backed Rob Collard claim his sixth podium finish of the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship on September 18.
The Hampshireman squeezed maximum performance from the WSR BMW 320si to take third place in the final race of the day after a thrilling battle with the turbo assisted cars of James Nash and Rob Austin.
After a tough qualifying session Collard was placed 16th of 25 starters on the grid for race one, but when the lights went out he made his trademark quick getaway and moved up into eighth within just five laps. However, his rapid progress was soon brought to a shuddering halt when he tried to move down the inside of Tom Onslow-Cole and the Ford driver slammed the door shut - putting both men out of the race.
That meant Collard had to start from scratch again in race two, but he made steady progress through a congested field and when the BMW's superior management of its rear-wheel tyres came into play in the closing stages the charging Collard was able to secure 10th place.
That result was enough to put Collard into the reverse grid draw for race three, which subsequently saw him placed on pole. Despite a great start the BMW 320si simply did not have enough power to hold off the turbo cars of Rob Austin and James Nash, and Collard had to concede the lead to them within the first few laps. He then came under intense pressure from the Chevrolet of Paul O'Neill, and was briefly demoted to fourth, but after a close battle the BMW driver used all of his experience to retake the final podium spot on the very last lap.
Another podium for Rob combined with two fine top-five finishes for team-mate Nick Foster at Rockingham moved WSR into fourth place in the Independent Teams standings and well within touching distance of the leaders.
Rob is currently seventh in the overall BTCC Drivers standings and fifth in the Independent Drivers championship, and with six races left over the final two events still in with a shout of challenging for a top three spot.
WSR BMW driver Rob Collard said:
"I struggled even more than I expected to in qualifying which wasn't ideal, but race one started well and I was pushing hard until the coming together with Onslow-Cole put us both out of it.
"That meant starting from the back again in race two, and in hindsight with the pace the BMW showed towards the end of the races at Rockingham maybe I could have been a little more patient in race one.
"It was virtually impossible to defend against the turbo cars though, they've just got so much more power it's a bit demoralising to be honest, as they can cruise right by you on the straights even if you've just passed them in a corner. "
"Nick did a sterling job too so we've scored good points as a team in the last few rounds and we're enjoying a strong finish to the season."