He might have yet to conclude terms to remain on-board at Motorbase Performance for a third consecutive campaign in the 2010 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC), but Rob Collard has revealed that it is a matter of 'when' rather than 'if' agreement is reached - and once it is, he makes it clear that he has high hopes indeed for the season ahead.

After finishing twelfth in the overall drivers' standings in 2008 - and fifth-best independent entry - Collard improved to an excellent and career-best sixth last year, courtesy of a brace of early victories at Brands Hatch and Donington Park and a consistent run throughout in his Airwaves-backed BMW 320si E90.

Now, one of the most popular drivers in the series - and inarguably one of its hardest-chargers - has his sights set on further improvement again in 2010, as he bids to build upon his finest campaign in the BTCC to-date.

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Whilst the championship will sport a rather different face this year with ostensibly no manufacturer teams for the first time in more than two decades, the Hampshireman insists the competition will be no less fierce than usual - and his goal, he stresses, is to continue his 'halving' progress from twelfth to sixth and this time around break into the top three.

"We're very, very close at the moment to securing a deal," the 41-year-old four-time BTCC race-winner told Crash.net Radio. "Motorbase is where I want to be; it's a very, very good team and [continuity] is very important. We've done two seasons together already, we learned a hell of a lot last year and I believe Motorbase will give me the best opportunity for 2010. We're just waiting on confirmation from sponsors now.

"As soon as we've signed, we need to plan some pre-season testing - I think that's absolutely crucial, especially as there's a new tyre that has been developed by Dunlop. We need to get out and do that, and then just try and rack up some points early in the year like we did last year and keep out of trouble. The plan is to be top three in the championship.

"I think as much as Triple Eight are no longer there, the quality of the cars is still high, because Vauxhall is there in another form with people like Andrew Jordan. I believe the championship will be as competitive as ever and it still has all the professional teams in it, so it's not going to be an easy year, that's for sure.

"I feel we got robbed a lot last year and didn't really get the results we should have done. It was still fantastic to finish P6 in the championship, but I believe the team, myself and the car have got a lot more capability than just P6."