Rob Collard tells TCF he hopes his luck has taken a turn for the better after grabbing the overall lead of the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Snetterton.
On a day of drama aplenty at the Norfolk circuit, Collard turned a 12-point deficit to West Surrey Racing team-mate Sam Tordoff into a three-point lead with results of fourth and second after a strong recovery from 18th in qualifying.
Collard appeared set for a third victory of the season in the final encounter of the day, but the BMW man settled for second spot after a titanic last-lap battle with a charging Gordon Shedden.
“It’s mixed emotions”, Collard told The Checkered Flag on the podium afterwards. “I’m devastated to lose that win to Gordon – he drove well, there was nothing wrong with what he did. My front tyres were going massively towards the end of the race and I couldn’t get it stopped.
“But looking at it from the other side of the coin – unfortunately Sam [Tordoff] had a mechanical so he wasn’t in the race, so I’d already done the maths and knew I could be leading the championship.
“This is why the BTCC is so popular, because it swings backwards and forwards. I was 18th in qualifying, 16th in the first race and had to have a serious talk to myself in the back of the truck because I was ready to go home.
“Then a few changes to the suspension, new tyres and a bit of weight out and the car was transformed. It just goes to show the car is so fickle – you’re either in the window or out of it. There’s nowhere in between.”
While the former Independent champion has lead the overall Drivers’ Championship in recent seasons, Collard said that he hopes for no repeat of his late-season bad luck from 2015 in the current title scrap.
“To come away leading the championship at what I call a bogey circuit for me with good points is unbelievable for me”, he added.
“I’ve never led it this late in the championship. In the second half of last year my championship just went Pete Tong, but this year we’re getting some of the luck we’ve lost in the past.”
In comparison to Snetterton, Collard expects much more performance from BMW and WSR at Knockhill in two weekends’ time. The fife circuit is one he has claimed five BTCC wins around, including his maiden triumph back in 2005.
“I think I’ve been the most successful touring car driver at Knockhill for years now, but you can’t predict anything in this championship because things turn around so quickly,” said Collard.
“People know when I can unlock the car and get it how I want it, I can really deliver. WSR have put their faith in me and I’m delivering as much as I can this year.
“I actually thought last year would be my last year, and then thought this year would be my last year! But now I can’t wait until Knockhill.”
Championship Standings After Round 6/10:
|1)||Rob Collard||West Surrey Racing (BMW 125i)||188||2|
|2)||Sam Tordoff||West Surrey Racing (BMW 125i)||185||1|
|3)||Matt Neal||Halfords Yuasa Racing (Honda Civic Type-R)||182||2|
|4)||Gordon Shedden||Halfords Yuasa Racing (Honda Civic Type-R)||163||2|
|5)||Colin Turkington||Silverline Subaru Team BMR (Subaru Levorg)||154||3|
|6)||Mat Jackson||Motorbase Performance (Ford Focus ST)||153||3|
|7)||Tom Ingram||Speedworks Motorsport (Toyota Avensis)||146||1|
|8)||Andrew Jordan||Motorbase Performance (Ford Focus ST)||146||1|
|9)||Adam Morgan||Ciceley Motorsport (Mercedes A-Class)||143||2|
|10)||Jack Goff||West Surrey Racing (BMW 125i)||138||-|