Airwaves BMW Suffer at Snetterton Airwaves BMW suffered a blow to its title aspirations after controversial end to the HiQ MSA Touring Car Championship round at Snetterton. Rob Collard had steered his BMW 320si into first position in the...
Airwaves BMW Suffer at Snetterton
Airwaves BMW suffered a blow to its title aspirations after controversial end to the HiQ MSA Touring Car Championship round at Snetterton.
Rob Collard had steered his BMW 320si into first position in the last race of the day, before a nudge from James Nash's Chevrolet send his spinning from the track and saw him struck hard by fellow BMW runner Stephen Jelley, who could not avoid the stranded Hampshireman.
It was a tough end to the day for Collard who had battled back from a DNF in race one to take a good points finish in race two and come within reach of a win in the final race.
Team-mate Jonny Adam finished the day with three points finishes, the first time he has managed that at a race meeting this season. However, the young Scot was disappointed not to have taken more from the weekend, and was unlucky not to collect a couple of podium finishes from the day's racing.
While Airwaves BMW remains in second place in the Independents Team Trophy standings, rivals Team RAC BMW have now stretched their lead by 29 points. Rob Collard also retained his fifth place in the BTCC Drivers Championship, but his hopes of catching leader Colin Turkington are all but gone after such a difficult weekend.
Earlier in the day the Norfolk circuit was bathed in sunshine as the grid took shape for the first race after the mid-season break, and the second half of the season certainly got off to an exciting start. Airwaves BMW's Jonny Adam made a great break from sixth and benefitted from pole-sitter Jason Plato and championship leader Colin Turkington going off to move into third place. Team-mate Rob Collard also made a typically roaring start to go from 14th to 10th, but then was spun round after taking contact mid-way through the first lap and dropped to the back of the field. Adam was in the thick of the battle for a podium place as the race progressed, and when a technical problem finished former BTCC champion James Thompson's race on lap 10 and brought out the yellow flag he looked odds on to claim one. However, with the field bunched up again the BRDC Superstar had to contend with heavy pressure from Paul O'Neill and Colin Turkington. Although O'Neill managed to squeeze by and take third spot from the young Scot on lap 12 Adam drove a very mature race to hold off the in-form Turkington and secure an excellent fourth place finish. Rob Collard enjoyed less luck as after doing a great job to battle all the way back to 10th he was forced to retire on the very last lap after going door-to-door with the Vauxhall of Matt Neal.
Race two was no less action packed. Jonny Adam used the phenomenal starting power of the BMW 320si to move into the third before the first corner, while team-mate Rob Collard followed suit by launching from 14th to ninth. Collard's experience and racecraft shone through as he picked off another couple of cars to move up to seventh in an awesome opening charge. On lap five Jonny Adam was promoted to second place when Mat Jackson's Chevrolet had to pit with an engine problem, but he was being closely followed by fellow BMW driver and title challenger Colin Turkington. After the midway point of the 18 lap race Adam and Collard were forced to concede positions as their tyres went off, and they were subsequently reeled in by the hard-charging Jason Plato and James Thompson. As the field stretched out and the race drew to a close the duo had to settle for a solid sixth and seventh place respectively.
The draw for race three's reverse grid saw Harry Vaulkhard placed on pole and the Airwaves BMWs of Collard and Adam alongside each other on row two in third and fourth. When the lights went out the Airwaves pair took advantage of their strong position immediately, with Collard streaking into the lead before the first corner and Adam grabbing third. Collard quickly built up a healthy advantage out in front of James Nash's Chevrolet, however the action was heating up behind him. Team-mate Adam was briefly passed by Jason Plato on lap six, but then Plato suffered a puncture and the Scot retook the place. His luck didn't hold though, as he slid off on an oil slick left by Tom Chilton's Focus and fell to fifth. The safety car came out as the oil was cleared up and the race didn't resume until lap 11. With his lead erased by the safety car Rob Collard came under pressure from James Nash, and the youngster eventually made contact with the race leader on lap 13 and sent him onto the grass and into a spin. The unfortunate Stephen Jelley had nowhere to go and the two BMW 320sis collided, ending the race for both drivers. Jonny Adam also suffered a spin after the safety car period and ended up in 15th, but he did manage to fight his way back into the points and finish a creditable ninth after a drama-filled race.
The HiQ MSA Touring Car Championship now moves to Knockhill in Scotland on August 15/16.
Airwaves BMW Team Principal David Bartrum said:
"I really don't know what to say after that. It was so disappointing as we have gone from a strong position coming into this round to a really difficult one after today. Rob really deserved a win in that last race and Jonny took three points finishes, and could've had more, so we were really competitive out there. The overall results have effectively ended our championship hopes though. However, as always we will fight all the way and try and win races at the remaining rounds. We've had some good results at the tracks that are still to come and everyone is looking forward to Knockhill, which will be a big one for us seeing as it is Jonny's home round."
Airwaves BMW Team driver Jonny Adam said:
"Obviously I'm glad to have managed three points finishes. I've been looking for consistency and that is a step in the right direction. It was a wee bit disappointing though because the car was good and I ran in the podium positions in all three races, but just didn't manage to nail one. The third race was especially disappointing as I ran straight into a patch of oil and it sent me off, there was just nothing I could do about it. I'm really looking forward to the next round at Knockhill though. I know it well and I will hopefully have a really big support there, so I'm confident of being in the hunt for some good results again."
Following race three Airwaves BMW driver Rob Collard was taken to hospital for precautionary checks and was unavailable for comment.