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Cool Collard Collects Superb Second at Silverstone

Airwaves BMW

August 30th 2009

HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship
Silverstone (Rounds 22/23/24)
Race Report

Rob Collard secured a superb second place finish for Airwaves BMW in the HiQ MSA Touring Car Championship at Silverstone.

Rob Collard on the Podium at SilverstoneThe Hampshire-based driver enjoyed a thrilling race-long duel with Mat Jackson in the third round of the day at the Northamptonshire circuit, eventually finishing just two tenths of a second behind the Chevrolet which dominated the race meeting.

Collard's third podium of the season saw him complete the race as the highest-placed BMW driver, while team-mate Jonny Adam took a good sixth-place finish.

It was a timely return to form for the Kent-based squad, which was glad to see its BMW 320sis collects top-ten points finishes in all three races after a couple of tough race weekends recently.

In race one Rob Collard made a great start from second on the grid to take the lead from Mat Jackson heading into the first corner at Copse.  Team-mate Jonny Adam also got away well, managing to outgun rival BMW drivers Colin Turkington and Stephen Jelley to go into fifth place on the first lap.  However, The Airwaves BMW drivers were unable to combat the dominant Chevrolets of Jackson, Plato and Nash - who enjoyed a huge performance advantage over the rest of the field around Silverstone's National Circuit.  However, Collard was forced to relinquish his lead to Jackson on  lap four, just before the safety car appeared after an incident involving Tom Onslow-Cole and Anthony Reid.  That erased Collard's gap over the Chevy's behind him and he had to defend strongly from Plato and Nash when the race resumed on  lap 10.  At this point Jonny Adam was enjoying a joust with championship leader Colin Turkington as the two BMW drivers locked horns over fifth position.

Despite his best efforts Collard was powerless to prevent Plato and Nash eventually making their performance advantage count and passing him on lap 15.  Shortly after Colin Turkington also managed to slip past the Hampshireman, leaving him placed in fifth with team-mate Jonny Adam just behind in sixth.  The race was then disrupted again as the safety car reappeared due to an oil spillage on the track, and the Airwaves BMW duo – whose tyres had lost their optimum performance temperature - fell into the clutches of reigning BTCC champion Fabrizio Giovanardi.  Collard and Adam went on to finish sixth and eighth and collect solid points finishes after a frustratingly stop-start race.

The weather was on the turn for race two, and despite being fairly dry at the start it caught out many drivers in the field as it got progressively wetter and they struggled for grip on slick tyres.  Airwaves BMW's Rob Collard made two places away from the start line and jumped from sixth to fourth, while team-mate Jonny emulated him by going from eighth to sixth by the first corner.  Three laps in and Collard was in the thick of the action as he pushed to try and get past the rival BMW of Colin Turkington in third.  However, reigning champion Fabrizio Giovanardi was on his case and as they tangled Collard was forced to save a massive slide and lost places, dropping to down ninth.

As the track became increasingly wet the order of the field changed lap after lap as drivers battled with the slippery conditions.  Halfway through on lap 11 Airwaves BMW's Jonny Adam fell back from seventh to ninth after a slight wobble, allowing team-mate Rob Collard to climb up to seventh.  On lap 17 Collard just managed to avoid collecting the rival BMW of Stephen Jelley as the Team RAC driver spun across the track, however he lost ground due to the incident and once again dropped behind team-mate Jonny Adam and had to slot into 10th place.  From then on it was a case of guiding the unsettled BMWs home in the tricky conditions and Adam and Collard eventually finished seventh and ninth respectively.

The reverse grid draw for the final race of the day saw Airwaves BMW driver Rob Collard placed on pole position with team-mate Jonny Adam in third place.  The two Airwaves BMW 320sis sandwiched former F1 legend Johnny Herbert who was drawn second in his Honda.  Collard made his usual trademark sprint off the line to nab first place heading into the first corner, but team-mate Jonny Adam lost out slightly as he was pushed down to fourth by Colin Turkington and Mat Jackson.  After half a dozen laps Collard was well out in the lead, but was being closed down by the super-quick Chevrolet of Jackson.  Meanwhile Jonny Adam was pushing Turkington hard as he looked to get past the Northern Irishman and try to help out his team-mate.

By the half way point Jackson had managed to reel in Collard then sneak past him to take first place, while Jonny Adam lost out in his battle with Turkington and Fabrizio Giovanardi and was forced down to fifth.  The race was far from over though, and Collard battled back magnificently as the race drew to a close.  He closed up on Jackson and over the final five laps and was stuck to the bumper of the Chevrolet as he looked to snatch the win.  Jackson showed skilful racecraft though, and managed to hang on and out-drag the determined Airwaves BMW driver to the chequered flag for a narrow victory.  Airwaves BMW driver Jonny Adam had to settle for a good sixth place finish behind reigning champion Giovanardi in fifth and former title winner Jason Plato in seventh.

To see the updated championship standings following the three latest rounds of the BTCC at Silverstone click here.

The HiQ MSA Touring Car Championship now moves to Rockingham on September 19/20.
Airwaves BMW Team Principal David Bartrum said:
"I'm ecstatic that we're back on the podium again after taking a few big knocks in recent races.  Both drivers have really stepped up their game today and it's really satisfying to have them both finish inside the top ten in all three races.  I'm especially pleased for Rob after he put in such a strong performance in the last race, as he needed that to pick him up after some rotten luck in the last few rounds.  Now we will go into the final two races with a good positive feeling again, and we will definitely be looking for podiums at those rounds too."

Airwaves BMW Team driver Rob Collard said:
"I'm absolutely delighted for team to be able to bounce back like this after the run we've had.  The car was stunning and we can't complain about the results, it's been a really good day's work.  It was a great fight with Mat in the last race and if I'd had just one more lap I'm sure I would have had him as his tyres seemed to have given up on him.  All credit to him though he hung on tight, and at the end of the day I was happy to pick up another trophy for the Airwaves BMW team after all the hard work the guys in the garage put in to get us back in contention."

Airwaves BMW Team driver Jonny Adam said:
"I'm pretty happy with how it went as those were three very tough races.  To take three top ten finishes alongside class drivers all battling for the championship is not bad at a great circuit like this.  I felt if I could just got Colin [Turkington] early in race three that might have let me get away and try to go after Rob [Collard] and Mat [Jackson] at the front, but he made his car wide and kept me behind and Fabrizio [Giovanardi] took his chance to squeeze me out.  It's another three good points scores though and that's the kind of consistency I've been looking for all season as I try to build up my experience.  We go to Rockingham now and I tested really well there in pre-season so that will be a good chance for me to try and get back on the podium."