Collard Produces Blistering Performance for Airwaves BMW Rob Collard turned in one of the best drives of the 2009 HiQ MSA Touring Car Championship season as Airwaves BMW enjoyed a fine weekend at Oulton Park. In the third race of the day...
Collard Produces Blistering Performance for Airwaves BMW
Rob Collard turned in one of the best drives of the 2009 HiQ MSA Touring Car Championship season as Airwaves BMW enjoyed a fine weekend at Oulton Park.
In the third race of the day the Hampshireman went from 20th to fourth - making up an incredible 16 places -- as he carved his way through the field at the sun-soaked Cheshire circuit. Earlier his Airwaves BMW team-mate stayed cool in the baking heat to finish third, and pick up the second podium of his BTCC career, in race one.
Following the action from Oulton Park Airwaves BMW has maintained third place overall in the BTCC championship, and is only one point off top spot in the independents' standings.
The temperature soared as the cars lined up on the grid for the first race of the day. Airwaves BMW driver Jonny Adam made and excellent start from fifth, surging past the SEAT of Adam Jones and tucking in behind the Chevrolet of Matt Jackson in third. Team-mate Rob Collard also got away well, moving up from ninth to seventh by the end of the first lap. As the race progressed Adam steered his BMW 320si into a breakaway group at the front of the field, with the first four putting a comfortable gap between themselves and the chasing pack. Meanwhile Collard was struggling to find his rhythm and dropped back to 11th as the competition hotted up among the midfield runners. On lap 12 he tangled with the Vauxhall of Andy Jordan but came off best and moved into tenth. He benefited again when Matt Jackson, who was third, suffered a puncture late in the race, elevating Collard to his original starting position of ninth. Jackson's loss was also Jonny Adam's gain, as the Airwaves BMW man was promoted from fourth to third and collected the second BTCC podium of his career.
The drama in race two began early for the Airwaves BMW team, as Rob Collard suffered from a broken propshaft on the warm-up lap and was forced to retire to the pits before the race began. However, starting from third on the grid team-mate Jonny Adam was in an ideal position to fight for another podium finish. The BRDC Superstar endured a tough start to the race, and was shuffled down to sixth place in the first few laps while battling with former champions Jason Plato and Matt Neal. As the race progressed he fought back, and after passing the Vauxhall of Andrew Jordan to go fifth he quickly reeled in Plato and Neal as they diced with each other round the undulating Cheshire circuit. The three-way battle served up some superb racing, as the two seasoned BTCC campaigners tried to hold off the young Scotsman while also fighting each other for position. With virtually nothing between the trio going into the last corner it was a drag race to the line -- and while the it finished Plato third, Neal fourth and Adam fifth they were split by mere fractions of a second.
Race three turned out to be one of the most exciting BTCC races Airwaves BMW has ever contested in the BTCC. Having started third Jonny Adam's hopes of securing a second successive podium were dashed early on as he spun following contact from Matt Neal's Vauxhall, dropping the Airwaves BMW driver all the way back to 11th. At the same time team-mate Rob Collard was going in the other direction, blasting through from second-last on the grid up to 11th after just one lap. The Hampshireman was absolutely flying and continued to pick up positions on almost every lap - making it to eighth by lap four. His Airwaves BMW counterpart Jonny Adam was on the receiving end again though, as another rival clattered him on lap six and effectively ended his race. The Fife-based driver eventually clawed his way back to a respectable 13th at the finish. The second half of the race was all about Rob Collard though, as he tore through the opposition like a man on a mission. Lap after lap he moved up the order, passing a number of title rivals on the way. In the closing stages of the race he enjoyed a close tussle with Matt Neal as he tried to wrest third spot from the Vauxhall man. In the end Neal just managed to hang on by fractions of a second, and Collard had to be content with a fine fourth place finish after a truly gutsy performance.
Airwaves BMW will resume its 2009 HiQ MSA Touring Car Championship campaign at Croft Circuit on June 14.
Airwaves BMW Team Principal David Bartrum said:
"What can I say about that last race? Rob's drive was incredible, he was the star man without a shadow of a doubt. It was such a good drive it almost felt like we had won at the end, it was a sensational fightback from where he was on the grid. With Jonny showing what he can do by taking another podium we can be pretty pleased with our performance here at Oulton this weekend. If we can put in another really good showing at the next round at Croft we can go into the summer break on a high and be nicely setup for the second half of the season."
Airwaves BMW Team driver Rob Collard said:
"The Airwaves BMW was absolutely fantastic race three, it just felt fast in every corner all the way through. I got a blinding start and after that I just found it quite easy because there was no weight on the car and the guys in front seemed to make mistakes and come back to me. I have to rate that as one of the best drives of my career. I had a similar race through from the back here last year, but to do it against the quality opposition I was up against today was very satisfying. It was disappointing not to pick up more points in the first two races from a championship point of view, but I enjoyed the last race so much it almost made up for it."
Airwaves BMW Team driver Jonny Adam said:
"It was great to get a podium in race one and pick up good points in race two, but what happened in race three was very disappointing. The podium was definitely on and the car had good pace, but I took a couple of big hits. All I needed was another good points finish and it would've been a really good day, so it's hard to take that result in the third race. I've not had one event this season where I've managed to get three clean runs, that's definitely got to be the aim in the next round. As a team we've once again shown we can be really quick and fight for podiums, and we'll go to Croft with a lot of confidence in the way we are racing just now."