Rob Collard looks back on what he feels has been a ‘very strong’ first half to his 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season, and the West Surrey Racing man predicts an exciting final five meetings of the current campaign.
The 45-year-old has seen a return to his front-running form in the 2014 season so far, collecting five podium finishes in the previous eight races which leaves the BMW 125i driver in a top-five position in the championship after the opening 15 races of the current campaign.
Results of fourth, third and second at Croft last month topped off his best weekend of the season, and he admitted to The Checkered Flag that the strong start to the season has put him in good spirits for the second half which kicks off on 2/3 August at Snetterton.
“I’m very pleased with how 2014 has gone so far this year”, Collard told TCF. “We were very strong in the races [at Croft] and I was very, very pleased with how that turned out.
“That’s five podiums in nine races now, so we’re really notching up the points and it’s going to be an exciting second half to the season.”
The regular podium visits have been Collard’s shining point of the season so far, although he still feels that the tally could have been greater, adding: “I feel I missed out on two more podiums which is a bit frustrating really, but that’s life.
“I feel that we should have had a little bit more success and a couple more podiums possibly, what with Jason Plato taking me out of a podium position at Oulton Park which was a bit of a low point of my season really. When I went off in the rain at Donington Park also when I was lying third, that could have been another.”
A seven-time BTCC race winner since his series debut in 2000, the Independents’ champion of 2003 now intends to begin increasing that top podium step tally in the remaining 15 races of the season.
His previous two victories in the BTCC came for WSR in 2012 during a fine weekend in Fife at Knockhill against the full NGTC machines with the BMW 320si, a circuit which Collard feels could again be strong for the team in a very unpredictable season.
“Absolutely”, he added on the thought of victories. “I looked back at my career and I’ve had so many second places, and this year it’s been going that way as well. We would definitely have liked to have had more wins and I don’t think that my win tally really shows how strong I’ve been in the championship.
“Knockhill is going to be a very strong circuit, we hope, for the BMW. The car now seems to be working good in the wet and in the dry for me, and also at different sorts of circuit because we didn’t expect to be so strong at Oulton Park. I think we’re in for a very strong second half of the year that’s for sure.”
Collard’s BMW team-mate Colin Turkington currently leads the championship to illustrate just how quick the WSR 125i has been in recent rounds, but Collard has said that the team have no need to concern themselves with supporting the six-time race winner of 2014 at a still early phase in the season.
“I don’t know basically is the honest answer”, said Collard on team tactics. “We’ll always help and support the team whichever way is needed, but I’m also very much my own agent and don’t want to compromise my sponsors.”
Collard lies fifth in the championship after 15 of 30 races, the next trio coming from Snetterton on 2/3 August.
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