Ricky Collard is one sixth of the BMW Motorsport Junior Programme and is working with the Munich outfit towards a potential future in the DTM Series.
The Briton produced convincing performances in formula racing early in his career before joining the programme in April 2016, since then he has gained experience in GT and touring car racing.
During the DTM Young Driver tests in 2016, he had the opportunity to gain experience behind the wheel of the BMW M4 DTM.
This year, Collard has been competing in the ADAC GT Masters for Team Schnitzer and carried out a DTM ‘taxi’ ride at the Moscow Raceway.
“After a really successful year in the British Formula 4 series, I was invited to go to Munich and talk about my plans with the management of the Junior Programme. I also met up with other Juniors. Later on, we had a shoot-out with six other Juniors in Dijon.
“Those two days were very successful for me and afterwards I was asked whether I wanted to join the programme and become a BMW Motorsport Junior. I was delighted, and then I finished second in the British Formula 3 series.
“I chose not to race in formula cars this year, so I could concentrate fully on BMW. Now I am driving GT cars and I was in action in the DTM race taxi in Moscow. I have won my first race in the ADAC GT Masters and I am very happy to have driven with a legendary team like Schnitzer.”
As with many young drivers Collard had to make the choice between furthering his career in single seaters, which comes at a high price, or look elsewhere for a race seat – which led him to GT racing.
“Of course, it would have been great to continue driving formula cars this year, maybe in the European Formula 3 Championship or GP3, as well as competing in GT races. But that would have been very difficult, and very expensive.
“I come from a farming family – we keep cows and pigs so that makes it difficult to get the money together for racing. I am happy and of course I will do everything I can to get to the DTM, and to concentrate on that and on Formula E. I want to convince everyone that I have everything required to earn that place.”
A serious crash in karting almost brought an end to Collard’s racing career before it had even truly got underway, with where he has ended up today a testament to his character.
“I drove into Max Verstappen, and Lance Stroll smashed into me. I broke a few vertebrae, five ribs, my collarbone, and broke my shoulder in two places. I also had a ruptured lung and internal bleeding.
“I was in hospital in Italy for about three months and had to use a respirator, as I was not able to breath properly. My whole family came over and it was a really tough time for all of us, as there was a chance that I might not make it.
“However, it all turned out well in the end as I made a full recovery and managed to make a comeback thanks to sheer willpower. Many people told me that I would never return to a race car and advised me to practice with my left foot and play football instead. But I just wanted to get back into a car and prove to everyone that I could put such a serious accident behind me.
“I think that I came back stronger after the accident and I had plenty of time to think about what to do with my career and what I wanted to achieve. Maybe being able to make a comeback after such a short period makes the accident the best moment of my career, as I was able to turn something so bad into a positive experience.”