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News 2008: Motorbase Hits the Front at Croft

Rob CollardDespite some of the toughest weather conditions in the recent history of the BTCC, Motorbase Performance had a tremendous weekend at Croft during rounds 13, 14 and 15 of the 2008 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship. Both Rob Collard and Steven Kane ran in contention for podium finishes and Collard led the opening laps of the third race as the team made a major step forward in overall competitiveness.

Rob CollardAlthough they ended qualifying in tenth (Kane) and 14th (Collard), those grid placings were not indicative of the team's pace at the North Yorkshire track. Qualifying was hit by three red flags, which meant a very disjointed session for the teams.

"We went back through the data and the best laps that Steven and Rob were on when the reds came out would have put them seventh and eleventh on the grid," said team boss David Bartrum.

Steven Kane, Rob CollardFollowing a glorious spring day on Saturday, Sunday's weather was very different and heavy rain all morning threatened to leave the whole event as a wash out. As the BTCC cars came to the grid for round 13, the track was awash and many top drivers fell foul of the conditions. Only four racing laps were finally achieved, as safety car periods and red flags interrupted the race.

Incredibly, in those few laps that did run, Collard somehow worked his way through to fifth place while Kane bagged seventh. For Collard, it was a very significant result, coming after a difficult weekend at Thruxton and he went ever better when round 14 started on a less wet track a couple of hours later.

Steven KaneIn the early laps, the Motorbase cars ran third and fifth, right in the thick of the lead battle before a safety car period. When racing resumed, Kane battled ahead of reigning champion Fabrizio Giovanardi to run fourth, right behind his team mate. Eventually, the flying Mat Jackson was able to battle ahead for third but the Motorbase team was headed for fourth and fifth until Kane's car hit electrical problems two laps from home and he just failed to finish. But fourth for Collard in tough conditions was a great result and a clear reminder to everyone that Rob is a fine racer.

With Kane hit by more electrical problems for the third and final race of the day, the team's hopes rested with Collard and once he again he did a brilliant job. He shared the front row with Mike Jordan's Honda, but Rob got a mighty start to grab the lead around the outside into the first corner.

Steven KaneNow, Motorbase led a BTCC race for the first time this season and Rob looked good leading the pack around the first lap. Although Giovanardi then muscled his way into the lead, Collard slotted in to second before an early safety car period. When racing resumed, Rob set about consolidating his position in a bid for a podium finish, but an over-ambitious attack from Adam Jones at Sunny wrecked Rob's race when the SEAT knocked his BMW sideways and inadvertently into Jordan's path. With damage to the front of his BMW, Rob cruised to the pits to retire, frustrated that a podium finish had been taken away by another driver's actions.

Steven KaneHowever, there were many positives for the team and the Croft performances bode very well for the second half of the BTCC season. "The team has done a lot of hard work over the last two weeks and I'm a lot happier with where we are this weekend," said Bartrum. "We've been in contention all weekend and we've learnt a lot."

The Motorbase team now has a six-week mid-season break before the action resumes at Snetterton on 12/13 July. "We're planning to do some proper testing during the June break," said Bartrum.