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Airwaves BMW Roll with it at Rockingham

Airwaves BMW

September 20th 2009

HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship
Croft (Rounds 25/26/27)
Race Report

Rob CollardAirwaves BMW experienced a rollercoaster ride of luck during the latest round of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship at Rockingham.

While the Kent-based outfit's Jonny Adam secured three excellent top-six finishes after a thrilling day of racing, team-mate Rob Collard endured a tough day at the office.  The Hampshireman collected a fine fourth place finish in the first race of the day, but then suffered two bitterly disappointing DNFs as he was forced into retirement by mechanical problems.

A strong showing in qualifying for Airwaves BMW saw Jonny Adam start from second on the grid while Rob Collard lined up in eighth for race one.  Both drivers made tremendous getaways, with youngster Adam taking the lead from the hugely-experienced Jason Plato going into turn one and Collard jumping an incredible five spots to go third.  The progress of the Airwaves BMW drivers was then temporarily slowed, as before the first lap was over the yellow flag came out after Matt Neal and Johnny Herbert were involved in a shunt that ended both their races early.  When the race resumed an intense battle developed at the front of the pack, with Airwaves BMW's Adam in first holding off Stephen Jelley just behind him and team-mate Rob Collard in third trying to do the same to Jason Plato and Mat Jackson.

Jonny AdamThe mid-part of the 18-lap race was a tough one for Airwaves BMW, with both of its drivers struggling with the balance of their cars on certain sections of the track.  On lap five Collard ran slightly wide at Gracelands corner and had to concede positions to Plato and Jackson, dropping him to fifth.  Four laps later team-mate Adam lost his number one spot to the hard-charging Jelley, and then immediately came under attack from the championship's form pair Plato and Jackson.  That meant Adam and Collard were sitting fourth and fifth respectively by lap 13, and they went on to enjoy a competitive joust for position with each other over the remaining five laps of the Northants circuit.  Eventually Collard won out and took fourth, with Adam collecting another strong points finish for Airwaves BMW in fifth.

Race two got off to a bitterly disappointing start for Airwaves BMW as Rob Collard was forced to retire to the pits on the formation lap with a broken differential.  That left team-mate Jonny Adam to carry the hopes of the team, and the young Scotsman did a sterling job.  He spent the majority of a race that was disrupted by two safety car periods going wheel-to-wheel with current champion Fabrizio Giovanardi and championship points leader Colin Turkington in a battle for third, fourth and fifth.  After some extremely polished driving from all three competitors Adam eventually had to bow to his rivals' greater experience, but brought his BMW 320si home in a fine fifth place position.

The reverse grid draw for race three saw Adam placed fifth in the order, while team-mate Collard started from the back of the pack following his retirement in the previous outing.  The race turned out to be an incident-packed cracker, and the Airwaves BMW drivers were right in the thick of the action from the word go.  Adam got shuffled back to eighth on the first lap after dicing with Plato and Giovanardi, while at the same time team-mate Collard blasted past four cars to move up to 17th.  By this point there were hard-fought tussles developing left, right and centre throughout the order - and in the melee Collard moved up again to 11th while Adam fell to 13th - before things calmed down a little when the safety car appeared after David Pinkney went off.

Airwaves BMW Roll with it at RockinghamWith the field bunched up again everybody had something to race for, but when the action resumed Collard could not maintain the charge that had seen him leap 10 places in just three laps as he suffered an engine temperature problem and was forced to retire for the second race running.  However, Airwaves BMW team-mate Adam got stuck in and started climbing the order as the race progressed by keeping out of trouble when everyone else began losing their cool.  When championship contenders Turkington and Plato tangled, and James Nash was taken out as a result, Adam moved into ninth position.  He then picked off fellow Scot Gordon Shedden and took advantage of a huge rammy between former Formula One ace Johnny Herbert, Turkington and Giovanardi to slot into seventh.  In the closing stages of the race the Fifer moved past Herbert with a slick passing manoeuvre at Deene to grab sixth spot.  That secured Adam's sixth BTCC top-ten finish in a row, and underlined the consistent form the Kinghorn-based driver has been looking to attain in his first season in the UK's premier racing series.

To see the updated HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship standings following the three latest rounds of the series at Rockingham click here.

The final all-action round of the 2009 HiQ MSA Touring Car Championship will take place at Brands Hatch on October 3/4.  With Airwaves BMW having already tasted victory at the famous circuit earlier this season the team will be looking to see out the 2009 season in style with some more silverware.

Airwaves BMW Team Principal David Bartrum said:
"It's been a bit of a game of two halves for us today, as on one hand Jonny has got some really good points on the board for the second round in a row, but Rob has driven fantastically well and just had no luck whatsoever.  I feel particularly bad for Rob as through no fault of his own he's had the chance of challenging for podiums taken away from him.  We have one more round left this season and it's a big one for us being at our home track, Brands Hatch.  We've performed really well there before and should be very strong again when we go there in two weeks.  Hopefully we can have both of our cars right up there challenging for podiums in all three races and really finish the season on a high in front of all our fans and sponsors."

Airwaves BMW Team driver Rob Collard said:
"It's been a bit of a torrid day for me really.  Race one was pretty good and probably as good as we could've hoped for having qualified eighth.  We didn't have the pace to go with the Chevrolets but the car came on strong towards the end of the race and I managed to get past Johnny and that set me up for a good crack at race two.  However, then we had a transmission failure on the green flag lap that put me out of race two and that really sunk my chances for the rest of the day.  The car actually felt fantastic in race three and I got a good start and managed to make up a lot of places.  There was a lot of contact out there though and cars were going off everywhere.  I think I made contact with the back end of another car fairly hard at one point early in the race, and during the safety car period my engine temperature soared.  I had to pull off and try to save the engine but I just feel really sorry for the team.  They have worked so hard to make the car very competitive, but it's just been an unlucky weekend for me.  I just want to put it behind us and look forward to going to Brands Hatch now and trying to win there again like I did in the opening round."

Airwaves BMW Team driver Jonny Adam said:
"I'm reasonably happy with how it went today.  There was certainly a lot going on out there, in the third race I was just picking my way through the debris really!  To stay out of trouble and come away with three top six finishes among all that is pretty satisfying.  I was really hoping to turn second on the grid in the first race into a podium, but there was some really forceful racing from some of the guys who are pushing for the championship and we just seemed to be on the receiving end a bit.  It's all good experience though and after a day like today I just feel like I am learning all the time competing against such experienced drivers.  I've now managed to get the level of consistency I've been aiming for, so the next target has to be more podiums and silverware.  Brands Hatch should be an opportunity to do that as we've got a good record there."