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Airwaves BMW Tastes Victory at Brands Hatch

Airwaves BMW

HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship
Brands Hatch, Rounds 1/2/3
April 5, 2009
Race Report

Rob Collard on the PodiumAirwaves BMW enjoyed a sensational start to the 2009 HiQ MSA Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch as driver Rob Collard notched up the team's first-ever win.

The local team, based just a few miles away from the circuit in Wrotham, revelled in the glorious sunny conditions at the Kent track.  Rob Collard turned in a flawless drive in race two to claim the squad's first-ever victory in the series – and his first in four years – to send his jubilant team into raptures.  The maiden outright BTCC race win for the team, after only one full season in the championship, was all the more special for having come at its home circuit.

Young Scotsman Jonny Adam was not be out-done by his team-mate, dominating race three from start to finish and taking the chequered flag in his first BTCC race weekend.  The BRDC Superstars graduate showed incredible pace on his drive to first place, leaving a field of far more experienced Touring Car drivers trailing in his wake as he romped to the finish.  However, the Kirkcaldy man was subsequently denied victory and demoted to second place after the race finished.  He was adjudged to have knocked Jason Plato out of the lead in a collision early in the race, incurring a penalty of four seconds and moving him down to second overall.

Earlier in the day Airwaves BMW had endured a tough start to the 2009 championship.  With Collard and Adam well-placed on the grid for the opening race, in third and sixth respectively, the team was confident of challenging for podium positions.  That looked a strong possibility as Rob Collard launched off the starting line and seized first place going into the first corner.  However, team-mate Adam was less fortunate as he sustained damage to his front right wheel after a tangle with fellow Scot Gordon Shedden and Team RAC's Stephen Jelley, ending his first-ever BTCC race almost before it had even begun.  Collard dropped back to fourth in the opening spell of the race after a fierce battle with the works Vauxhalls of Matt Neal and Fabrizio Giovanardi.  However, he recovered well and benefited from the safety car coming out later in the race, and the Vauxhall of Andrew Jordan dropping out of the order, to climb his way back up and snatch fourth.  Collard also recorded the fastest lap of the race to win a bonus point.

That put the Hampshireman in an ideal spot to attack in race two.  Once again he made a blistering start and passed both Neal and Giovanardi before the first corner, tucking into second place behind Team RAC's Colin Turkington.  Further back Jonny Adam was making headway through traffic after starting from 19th, and had fought his way up to 13th only eight laps in.  As the race wore on Collard came under increasing pressure in second place from reigning champion Giovanardi.  However, he upped his pace and began to reel in race leader Colin Turkington as the race drew to a close.  Just a couple of laps from the end Collard seized his chance and muscled past Turkington to take the lead, then sprinted to an outstanding race win.  While Collard was roaring to victory Jonny Adam had clawed his way back up the order to finish a highly creditable ninth and secure valuable points for Airwaves BMW.

There was no shortage of drama in the final race of the day.  The reverse order saw Jonny Adam placed second on the grid, with only Jason Plato lining up ahead of him.  Rob Collard faced a tough task, starting from ninth and surrounded by the factory Vauxhalls and Team RAC BMWs.  Adam showed why he is so highly rated by pressuring the more experienced Plato right from the start.  On the second lap the youngster moved into the lead and never looked back, stretching off into the distance and finishing well ahead of the chasing pack while setting the fastest lap in the process.  However, contact with the Chevrolet of Plato on lap two later saw him relegated to second place overall.  Rob Collard also enjoyed an eventful race. Having been spun off the track five laps in during a battle in midfield, he guided his BMW 320si all the way back from 17th to eighth and added to his points tally for the weekend.

Despite being denied a second race win it was a hugely impressive start to the season for Airwaves BMW.  The excellent pace shown by both of its drivers in qualifying and all three races proved the squad's hard work in pre-season had paid dividends, and showed that it will be challenging at the front of the pack throughout the 2009 season.

Airwaves BMW Team Principal David Bartrum said:
"It was a fantastic way to start the season for us.  It was important to start strongly and show that we could replicate the form we had shown in pre-season testing.  Obviously it meant so much to me to secure our first win in the BTCC at our home circuit, it was a really emotional moment for all of the team.  Both Rob and Jonny were outstanding this weekend, I'm very proud of them both.  We knew we could be fast here and we've set a standard for ourselves for the rest of the year.  We want to be right up at the front again in every round."

Airwaves BMW Team driver Rob Collard said:
"It's a great feeling to be a winner again.  I hope I won't have to wait as long for the next one to come along.  The Airwaves BMW 320si was fantastic all weekend and that gave me the confidence to push really hard when I got the chance.  I knew I had the pace to take Colin [Turkington] in race two and I just waited for my chance.  Once I got past I just focused on keeping it tidy and making sure of the win.  I'm just delighted to have been able to get the team's first BTCC win and reward David [Bartrum] and all of the guys in the garage."

Airwaves BMW Team driver Jonny Adam said:
"Well it was certainly a weekend of highs and lows.  It was tough to go out of the first race, my first-ever in the BTCC, so early on.  I managed to battle back well in the second race and got a good points finish for the team.  Obviously starting second on the grid for the last race gave me a great chance to go for the win.  It knew it was important to get past Jason [Plato] early on and try to open up a gap.  Once I took the lead I had the pace to stay comfortably in front and I was very happy with my performance."