Rob Collard was delighted after starting the 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship with a win at Brands Hatch in the opening race of the day, saying that he expects a tougher battle with maximum ballast in race two.
The West Surrey Racing man made a sublime getaway from fifth on the grid to take the trio of BMR Racing Volkswagen CCs and move into second, before dispatching Andy Priaulx from the lead on lap 14.
Collard took advantage of the returning Priaulx’s struggles on the softer tyre, the latter finishing ninth while Collard held on to win by less than half a second.
“It was so important to get a good start”, Collard told The Checkered Flag. “I was going through it in my head.
“I managed to get a great start, but I was quite surprised how wide Jason went going into Paddock Hill Bend which allowed me to get under Aron. It was a battle into Druids, we touched wheels but I managed to keep it and come out in front.
“The opening couple of laps were very important, we made a gap but I think Andy [Priaulx] doesn’t have the experience of the soft tyre. At one point he just started to get away for a lap but then I got back onto him.
“He pushed too hard and I think his tyres started to fall away. I caught him and he just made a slight mistake coming through Clearways, then that was it – I got underneath him and the rest is history.”
The BMW man however sustained big pressure from Aron Smith and Jason Plato, admitting that the win was by no means easy from the front.
“I got my head down and tried to bang in some qualifying laps”, he added on the final half of the race.
The game plan worked with Andy but I thought the VWs would come strong towards the end and Aron was absolutely on me. There was no let-up at all.”
The second race will be a much tougher venture for the BMW man however he says, starting from a credible fourth position based on fastest laps, but on the softer compound rubber and with 75kg of penalty ballast.
“Unfortunately I’ve chosen race two for the soft tyres”, Collard said. “I’ve never driven with 75kg of ballast in the car before, so it’s going to be tough.”