WSR BMW's Rob Collard firmly believes he's 'got his mojo back' after a gutsy Knockhill fight back leaves eBay-driver fourth in the BTCC standings ahead of Rockingham.
Collard, by his own admission, endured 'a disappointing' 2013 BTCC campaign, where a winless season left the WSR-man a lowly 13th in the final standings after finishing fifth the previous year.
The eBay man, however, has enjoyed a reinvigorated assault on the championship this season and took his first victory in exactly two-years last time out at Knockhill despite receiving a post-Snetterton penalty which meant starting race-one, at the Scottish circuit, plum last.
Not fully in agreement with the penalty, Collard said he was forced to sacrifice qualifying in a bid to force a race-winning strategy come Sunday. The WSR-man then later surged from 31st at the start of meeting to comfortably win the final race of the day.
“Obviously I was absolutely over the moon to finish the day with a win,” Collard told crash.net. “We went there with a plan after feeling unhappy with the irregularities with some of the decision making from the stewards this year.
“So to be penalised going to Knockhill, where you know it's going to be your best opportunity to win was a bitter pill to swallow.
“We were quick Saturday morning, which was good and the car was exceptional. We then talked about a plan with Dick Bennett and that was to save the tyres in qualifying and do very little running. All I did was go out and post a time, which was actually good enough for P9 anyway, to keep our tyres for Sunday.”
Collard admits each of the opening two races had exceeded his expectations but once in position in race three, he knew his BMW 1 Series was in prime position to claim an overdue victory for the 45-year old.
“The aim was to get 18th, or 15th at best for race one, so to finish in P12 was very, very good,” Collard continued.
“Then it was the same in race two, if we'd have finished in the top eight we would have been delighted, so to finish fifth was a quite a surprise!
“I just knew then, with the typical sort of things, which happen in race three – a demolition derby; I just knew I had to be so strong in the opening couple of laps. I put so much energy and focus into getting the car off the line; I ended up making probably my best start in two years.”
Despite a strong season Collard trails his championship leading eBay Motors team mate Colin Turkington by 89-points, and although admitting he's still going for race victories in a bid to finish third in the title standings, the BTCC-veteran says he will play the team game.
“At the moment, everyone is out there for themselves but I wouldn't make it difficult for Colin and I would always help him, it's the same with Nick,” said Collard. “You're either a team player or you're not.
“You're a team player at start of the year, the middle of the year and the end of the year. I've always been that. Colin and I have been wheel-to-wheel for many years and he knows the championship hasn't got to be on the line for me not to compromise him. I like to think he would do the same for me.
“When it comes down to the final round of course I'll help him, but we're still very much out there to win races as well.”
Collard now maintains he's in position to end the season strongly, citing a heightened confidence with his 1 Series challenger, stemming from a different engineering philosophy, which began last winter has swung in his favour.
“Going forward to Rockingham, and the rest of the season, I have definitely got my mojo back,” Collard enthused.
“I can now get the car to do what I want it to do. It's cracking to be where we are at this point of the season and I'll be going for a top-three in the championship. I'm probably too far back to win it but a top-three top is on.
“In 2013 it was very weird, like as though I was a fish out of water. Whatever I did with the car it wouldn't work.
“It took two-thirds of the season to start getting it going well. So from then changing the engineers and getting a good understanding and working relationship with Dick Bennett just shows that getting the right combination of driver/engineer and chassis working, anything is possible.”
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