Rob Collard and Matt Neal traded opinions of their collision during qualifying for the fifth Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship meeting of the season at Croft.
Contact between the pair occurred as Collard’s West Surrey Racing BMW 125i entered the race track from the pits as Neal was starting a hot lap during the 30-minute qualifying session. Collard moved to let the Halfords Yuasa Racing Honda Civic Type-R overtake at Hawthorn Bend, but contact damaged both cars and forced them out of the remainder of the session.
The Clerk of the Course adjudged that Neal was in the wrong, the triple BTCC champion handed a post-qualifying reprimand and two penalty points on his licence.
A winner here last year, Collard will start 13th on the grid and told The Checkered Flag that he felt he had given the Honda man sufficient room to overtake.
“I came out of the pits on stone cold tyres, I could see Matt coming down the pit straight and I was aware he was closing on me fast. I went into Clervaux, went wide and left him enough room to drive through the gap”, Collard told TCF.
“I think it’s a case of pushing too hard at the wrong times. He’s apologised for it but it doesn’t make the situation right as you don’t get the lap back.
“I don’t get the opportunity to qualify where we should have been which is top-five or six. The car’s mega and, at that point, that’s where I was.”
While apologetic, Neal said that he felt he had enough room to pass by the BMW 125i, saying immediately after the incident: “I was on a quick lap and I had my lights on.
“I thought there was enough space on the inside to go through. We touched wheels and that broke my rear wheel.”
Collard was handed a positive piece of news after qualifying however, given back his best time of 1m24.332s which was initially taken away from him for taking evasion action around the Chevrolet Cruze of Hunter Abbott at the Jim Clark Esses.
“Passing Abbott through the Jim Clark Esses, he was sitting on the racing line so I had to go wide to miss him on my best lap”, was Collard’s appeal from that particular incident, moving from 16th to 13th.