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Collard Collects Double Points Finish for Airwaves BMW

Airwaves BMW

April 26th 2009

HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship
Thruxton (Rounds 5/6/7)
April 26th, 2009
Race Report

Local hero Rob Collard collected two strong points finishes for Airwaves BMW in the second weekend of the 2009 HiQ MSA Touring Car Championship at Thruxton.

Rob CollardThe Hampshire-based driver recovered from spinning out in race one to fight back with some gritty driving and finish fifth in races two and three.  Team-mate Jonny Adam endured a tough time in only his second weekend in the BTCC, finishing just outside the top ten in each of the three races.  Following the weekend's action Airwaves BMW has retained third place in the BTCC Teams Championship and second spot in the Independents Team Trophy.

With Adam and Collard starting race one from midfield, in 11th and 12th position respectively, the Airwaves BMWs faced a difficult task to fight their way through the pack in the quest for points.  When the lights went out both Adam and Collard made a superb start, bustling their way through to seventh and eighth.  Five laps in the pair were locked in battle with former champion James Thompson in his Honda Civic and Adam Jones in his SEAT Leon.  On lap ten the safety car appeared and bunched the field, allowing the Airwaves BMWs to go on the attack.  Jonny Adam attempted to pass Thompson on lap 13, but the move cost him places as he was forced wide and dropped to 11th.  By this point the BRDC Superstar's tyres had gone off and his race was effectively over, finishing 12th as he struggled for grip on the high-speed Hampshire circuit.  Team-mate Rob Collard enjoyed a dramatic second half to the race while tussling with James Thompson and Stephen Jelley.  On the penultimate lap the local ace attempted to round the pair and seize seventh after out-braking his rivals into the chicane – but contact with Jelley's BMW 320si sent him sliding from the track and meant Collard finished the race in 17th.

In race two the Airwaves BMW 320sis of Adam and Collard once again faced an uphill battle, having to start from 12th and 17th.  However, Collard made an incredible break from the line and passed five cars before the first corner – shortly after which the safety car appeared following Dan Eaves' SEAT sliding off the track into the barriers.  The race resumed on lap seven with Jonny Adam and Rob Collard just behind James Thompson in 10th.  Collard moved ahead of his younger team-mate Adam on lap 10, then they both picked up places as first Paul O'Neill then Andrew Jordan had offs - promoting the Airwaves BMW duo to seventh and 10th.  Collard then got the bit between his teeth and went on a charge, eventually rounding former BTCC champions James Thompson and Jason Plato at the same corner in a sweeping move on the final lap.  It was a sensational performance from the experienced campaigner - having made up an outstanding 12 places from the start of the race.  Team-mate Jonny Adam only narrowly missed out on a points finish, eventually placing 11th.

The final race of the day was an equally-action packed affair.  Rob Collard made another excellent start from fifth, snatching fourth place and putting the podium position runners immediately under pressure.  On lap four he once again became embroiled in a close-fought battle with the Honda Civic of James Thompson, eventually having to concede a place to the former champion and drop to fifth.  Team-mate Jonny Adam was enjoying even worse luck, having put a wheel on the grass trying to avoid another car and spinning – dropping him all the way to 19th.  The safety car made another lengthy appearance on lap 10 and when the race got back underway on lap 15 Collard tried once again to round the tenacious Thompson.  However, the Yorkshireman again defended strongly and Collard was forced to drop back.  He was briefly promoted to fourth when second-placed Paul O'Neill dropped out of the order, but after dicing with Matt Neal and Jason Plato all the way to the line had to settle for a hard-won fifth-place finish.  All the while Jonathan Adam was fighting back to take the other Airwaves BMW 320si up to 12th by the chequered flag.

Airwaves BMW will resume its 2009 HiQ MSA Touring Car Championship campaign at Donington on May 17.  To see the latest series standings simply click here.

Airwaves BMW Team Principal David Bartrum said:
"It was always going to be difficult for us here as we've not had much experience at this circuit with the BMW 320si, and that probably showed a little bit in race one.  However, we got there with the setup in races two and three and I'm delighted with the way Rob drove today, especially in the third race as it was a first class display.  The quality of the guys he was mixing it with was second to none, and he did an extremely professional job to take it to them.  He was unlucky not to snatch a podium but he can be very pleased with his performance.  I'm disappointed for Jonny because he had a hard time today, it was a bit of a baptism of fire for him after everything going so smoothly in the first round at Brands.  I've no doubt he'll put it behind him very quickly though and be focused on challenging at the front again come the next round at Donington.  I expect we will be much more competitive overall there."

Airwaves BMW Team driver Rob Collard said:
"If you'd asked me after qualifying yesterday (Saturday) if I would take two fifth place finishes here then I'd have taken that.  I started really well all day and the car was very good in races two and three.  I'm a little bit frustrated though because I think I could have nicked a podium in race three.  If the safety car hadn't come out when it did I reckon I could have got past James [Thompson] and pushed on, but the long yellow flag period saved his tyres just enough.  There were four or five really top drivers out there all battling for position in race three and I really enjoyed it, it was very good racing for us and the fans.  It was good to pick up more championship points and I'm looking forward to getting back on the podium trail at the next round."

Airwaves BMW Team driver Jonny Adam said:
"That was a hugely frustrating weekend of racing for me.  I just never felt really comfortable with the setup of the car in any of the races and couldn't really take the fight to the guys around me.  It was a learning experience though and you have to take the rough with the smooth.  Once we have sat down and tried to get to the bottom of why we weren't quite putting it together here at Thruxton then we can put it behind us and set our sights on returning to the front of the field at the next race."