Rob Collard secured his first podium finish in the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship for more than two years after another strong weekend for the Motorbase Performance team at Knockhill.
Collard last took to the podium in the eleventh round of the 2006 campaign at Thruxton whilst driving for Team RAC and headed to Knockhill – the scene of his maiden BTCC victory – eager to build on the strong recent form of the Motorbase squad.
Qualifying once again proved to be the team's Achilles heel with Collard forced to start race one from down in 15th place on the grid but he produced an impressive performance in the opening race to take the flag in seventh place. A sixth place in race two then put Collard on the second row for race three thanks to the reverse grid draw.
Making the most of the starting prowess of the BMW, Collard stormed into second place off the line behind Darren Turner but despite pressurising the SEAT man during the early stages, he had to settle for a place on the second step of the podium.
"I'm delighted for the team," he told Crash.net
. "We struggled again in qualifying as we always seem to do this year, we just can't get the time out of the car over the single lap. We knew in race trim though that the car is awesome in terms of race pace, so we had to stay out of trouble and get into the top ten in race one. I got a seventh which I was delighted with and it set me up for the weekend.
"We got off the line well and I was pleased to beat the other BMWs away. I put Darren under a bit of pressure and he had to work hard in the opening laps. He started to slow at about the seventh lap and was having to defend and I thought we could have a win but the Safety Car came out which wrecked the race as he cooled his tyres down and then pushed when it went back in and go that bit of a gap.
"We were banging in consistent quick times but so was he, and in the final laps I backed off a bit to save the car. It was good to get the Independent win for the team and second overall."
Collard's podium was the latest result in a season that continues to gain momentum following a couple of trying years that left many to wonder if he was worth his place on the BTCC grid.
However, the former Independent champion said he was pleased to have repaid the faith shown in him by team boss David Bartrum by securing a result that lifts him to eleventh in the championship standings – and strengthens his fifth place in the Independents' title race.