West Surrey Racing‘s experienced stalwart Rob Collard says that he will ‘dig deep’ in his bid to challenge for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship title in 2015.
The 46-year-old was one of several household BTCC names forced to sweat on the news of his 2015 participation, the phone call confirming that he could return for a sixth consecutive season with WSR coming in February.
Having remained loyal to the West Surrey outfit since 2010, Collard says that it was a relief to secure the drive which he thought he may have been close to losing in a similar manner to defending champion, Colin Turkington.
Collard told The Checkered Flag it was a fighting winter period, saying: “Yes, there was a lot of uncertainty in the winter, so it’s a pleasure now to be back in the car.
“I got my seat back which I admit, I thought I’d lost. Now I’m looking forward to another year in BTCC with a great bunch of guys. I really enjoy my racing, so being here with WSR is what I’m looking forward to.”
Collard, an eight-time BTCC race winner, enjoyed the second-best BTCC season of his career points-wise, collecting a victory at Knockhill in Fife along the way en route to netting sixth place in the overall Drivers’ Championship despite a frightening accident at Silverstone.
He now hopes to build on last season’s performances, part of a strong three-pronged attack in 2015 for WSR also featuring former race winner Sam Tordoff and triple World Touring Car Championship title winner, Andy Priaulx.
Collard believes the team will be instantly winning races, adding: “The BMW 1-Series is a fantastic car still. I’m sure, between the three of us, that we’ll be winning races. Quite how that will pan out I don’t know, but what I’ve of Sam and Andy so far – they’re very, very strong.”
Collard enters with the luxury of two seasons’ experience in the BMW 125i however, holding no doubt in his own ability behind the wheel. The 2003 Independent champion also admits that there could be as many as 15 different winners on the 2015 grid.
He continued: “I always prefer the racing part of the weekends. I feel that I’m better in a racing situation and I come through them strong. Single lap pace for me is what I’m struggling with.
“I’ve still got some fight in me though! I know I can do it.
“I have to really dig deep now. The championship is so, so strong; if you took the top 15 drivers then you feel that any one of them could win a race.
“Plus, virtually anybody from those could also win the championship. You just look at the new names that we’ve got at the top of the board today – good cars, good drivers, so it’s going to be hard work.”
Further news for Dick Bennetts‘ outfit was confirmed on media day (Tuesday 24 March), as the BMW squad will also challenge for the Manufacturer/Constructor Championship this year, having previously been one of the sport’s most successful Independent outfits.
“That’s quite new news to me to be fighting for the maufacturer”, added Collard. “I don’t know much about the news at this early stage but I’ll discover what the corporate line is and then we’ll surely be in great shape to take the fight for BMW.”
Rain affected Collard’s Donington Park test on Tuesday, finishing 16th with Tordoff 10th as the mixed conditions left little for punters to fully understand in terms of the pecking order.
Collard begins his 2015 challenge on 4/5 April when the BTCC season kicks off at Brands Hatch Indy circuit, WSR hoping also to defend their Teams’ Championship crown.