Donington Delight for Airwaves BMW Rob Collard claimed an outstanding win for Airwaves BMW at Donington in the third round of the HiQ MSA Touring Car Championship. The Hampshire-based driver was in imperious form in the third race of the...
Donington Delight for Airwaves BMW
Rob Collard claimed an outstanding win for Airwaves BMW at Donington in the third round of the HiQ MSA Touring Car Championship.
The Hampshire-based driver was in imperious form in the third race of the day, seizing first place at the first corner then cruising to victory at the rain-swept Leicestershire circuit. It was Collard's second win of the season, keeping him firmly in contention for the championship title. It was also the first win for a BMW at Donington in the BTCC since 1993.
All three BTCC races provided top-class action despite ever-changing weather conditions.
Having been dry all morning the heavens opened just before race one, meaning a swift changeover to a full wet setup for the Airwaves BMW 320sis. However, the conditions didn't faze Airwaves BMW driver Rob Collard -- who made a trademark super-fast start and went straight from sixth to third before the first corner. Team-mate Jonathan Adam also made a solid getaway, picking up a couple of places over the first two laps to move up to seventh in the order. The yellow flag came out on lap five after Team RAC's Stephen Jelley crashed out, and when the race resumed on the following lap the Airwaves BMWs went on the attack once again. Jonny Adam became locked in a titanic battle five-way battle with Jason Plato, Fabrizio Giovanardi, Paul O'Neill and Adam Jones -- at one point slipping down as far as tenth while the quintet traded places lap after lap. However, he fought his way back up past his more experienced rivals -- bravely rounding Plato and Giovanardi on the outside -- to secure sixth by the finish. Meanwhile, team-mate Rob Collard was trying to hunt down the Vauxhall of Andrew Jordan and take second place but began to struggle with grip as the track dried slightly mid-way through the race - allowing title rival Matt Neal to catch and pass him. However, he fought back when the deluge increased in intensity again and finished close to the Vauxhall man in a strong fourth position.
The weather had improved dramatically by the start of race two, leaving the track bone dry as the cars lined up on the grid. Starting from fourth Rob Collard once again got the best from the BMW 320si and made another outstanding start to jump into second by the first corner, just behind the Honda Civic of race one winner James Thompson. Fellow Airwaves BMW driver Jonny Adam also made an impressive start, picking up two places on lap one to go fourth before the yellow flag was brought out after an incident further down the field. When the race resumed on lap five Collard was looking to pressure Thompson in first place, but ended up being spun out of contention and down to 13th after a rival made contact with his rear bumper. That collision promoted team-mate Jonny Adam to third, but he was immediately under attack from Jason Plato, Matt Jackson and Colin Turkington. While he used the whole width of the track to hold them off for a large part of the race, the young Scot eventually had to concede his place as his tyres wore, dropping back to finish seventh. At the same time Rob Collard displayed superb racecraft to battle back up to finish ninth, placing himself into contention for a good draw in the reverse grid for race three.
Collard was placed second on the grid for the final race of the day, which took place in very wet conditions again, with team-mate Adam directly behind him in fourth. Collard launched off the line and immediately took the lead from the Chevrolet of Harry Vaulkhard. Team-mate Jonny Adam then followed him past Vaulkhard and went second, before being unceremoniously pushed from the track on only the second lap and falling to 16th. At the other end Collard was waiting for no man as he put in a series of strong laps at the head of the field, leaving reigning champion Fabrizio Giovanardi in his wake. However, conditions on track started to change rapidly and the tarmac began to dry, meaning Collard's wet weather tyres began to suffer. The Airwaves BMW man was in no mood to surrender his lead though and powered to the finish ahead of title rival Colin Turkington. Jonny Adam had to make do with 13th position after a tough day of racing.
Collard's stunning win and two top-ten finishes in the day's earlier races puts him back amongst the front-runners in both the overall and independent drivers' titles. With Jonny Adam also taking two top-ten places, Airwaves BMW is now third in the overall team standings and first in the independents' championship.
Airwaves BMW will resume its 2009 HiQ MSA Touring Car Championship campaign at Oulton Park on May 31.
Airwaves BMW Team Principal David Bartrum said:
"That was a superb win for Rob in the last race, he did a really professional job and it just underlined how well he has been driving this season. I'm delighted for him and all the boys in the garage who worked so hard to make it happen. After a tough round at Thruxton it was important to get back to winning ways here at Donington. It just shows how far we have come as a team that we are capable of producing big results like this on a regular basis. It's great to be able to reward our sponsors Airwaves, Leyland Paints and SAS international with results like that, because they have been central to helping us progress this year. Jonny was desperately unlucky today and he could easily have been on the podium today if it wasn't for other drivers. It's just been a great day for me all round, with a win for Airwaves BMW in the BTCC and a win for Motorbase Performance in the Porsche Carrera Cup it's hard to top really."
Airwaves BMW Team driver Rob Collard said:
"What a great way to finish the day. The car was tremendous all weekend, a lot of credit has to go to our engineers for doing such a superb job under difficult conditions today. Race one was good for me, race two was a bit unfortunate, but we showed the strength of this team by bouncing back and doing a great job in the last race. I got away so well and I pushed really hard over the first part of the race to try and build up a really good lead. When the track started drying out I just went looking for water on the wet line all the time, and that helped me keep the tyres in good enough shape to maintain my lead. I was a bit worried when I started seeing back markers, but I got past them ok and I knew I could produce a bit more pace if I needed to over the last few laps. This weekend has put me right back in the title hunt so I can't ask for any more."
Airwaves BMW Team driver Jonny Adam said:
"Despite taking two top ten results it's been a really frustrating day. I've been put out of contention after being in really good positions and I think if it hadn't been for that I could've been right up there. The car felt really strong throughout and I felt I drove well, but just didn't have any luck at all. In the third race I got a great start and managed to grab second behind Rob. Then at the next corner I just got a massive hit from behind and was pushed off. There was no just no way back after that as I was on wets and the track was drying fast. To be honest I'm pretty gutted not to have come away with a lot more points today, but we've shown the Airwaves BMW 320si is a really strong package this year and we will be able to push for really good results for the rest of the season."