Race three winner Rob Collard was delighted to have taken his first win of his 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season, at a circuit that he says has always proved kind to him down the years.
Collard had staged a fine recovery from the tail of the field on Sunday, having been placed to the back of the grid after qualifying at the Fife circuit as punishment enforced for passing under yellow flags at Snetterton earlier this August.
The West Surrey Racing BMW driver put the setback behind him with a sterling drive through to 12th from 31st in the first of Sunday’s races, before reinforcing that result with a fifth place in the second encounter. Collard’s defining race was the reverse-grid contest on Sunday evening, charging through the pack in the opening laps from sixth to first.
His overtaking moves on Dave Newsham and Fabrizio Giovanardi at the hairpin were followed by a swift pass on team-mate Nick Foster on lap eight, claiming his fourth win at a Knockhill circuit that has been kind to him in BTCC since his debut triumph in 2005.
“The highlands seem to be really kind to me”, Collard told The Checkered Flag after his race three success, which he believes keeps his top-three title chances alive once again.
“At Knockhill I always seem to get a podium and this is my fourth win here, so I’m absolutely delighted. When we left Snetterton knowing we had a grid penalty, I really thought we were going to struggle with the championship and drop down the order.
“Luckily, we’ve been able to fight back and actually gained in the championship, albeit through other people’s misfortunes. I’m just so pleased.”
The weekend in Scotland was one of the most dramatic of the season, with many of the leading contenders in this year’s title race suffering during incidents in the opening two encounters of the day.
Among those involved in clashes included team-mate Colin Turkington, who was spun into the gravel in a clash at Scotsmans in race one, while the same bend was host to further incident throughout the weekend which Collard said he ensured he would not be a part of in his triumphant third race.
Collard said: “I just knew that after races one and two that there was going to be carnage!
“So I put absolutely so much effort into the start; it was one of my best and one of the best first laps I think I’ve driven in a couple of years.
“I worked my way through but then I got hit a couple of times. I made what I thought was a mega lunge on Giovanardi into the hairpin – he tried to close the door and we just made made a bit of contact when I was through.
“We had some great results at Croft and Oulton Park so it’s nice to reinforce it.”
The result puts Collard now fourth in the championship and on a total of six podium finishes in a rejuvenated year for the WSR man, who says that the win was somewhat of a relief after witnessing team-mate Turkington pick up six victories in 2014 so far.
“2012 was the last time that we had a win. 2013 was a bit of a dire year, but we had a podium here as it happens, so it’s great to win this year because Colin’s been doing really well.
“It has been a case of all of a sudden one side of the garage has loads of trophies and the other has not so many, so it’s nice to get something back on my side.”
Collard lies 89 points from the series leader but now just 50 from third-placed Jason Plato, as the series next heads to Rockingham on 6/7 September.