Rob Collard feared his chances of fighting for this year's British Touring Car Championship crown could have been 'slipping away' before recovering from his disastrous start to the weekend at Silverstone.
Qualifying yet again proved to be West Surrey Racing's Achilles heel for the second meeting in a row. A minor altercation between Collard and his team mate Sam Tordoff hardly helped their cause, which left the former mired down in 25th position.
In the end his less than favourable qualifying run proved only a minor inconvenience as Collard made another one of his unwavering charges through the pack to end opening race with an unlikely seventh place finish.
While admitting he had hoped for more on the soft tyre in race two, Collard remained in seventh but did eventually cap what turned out to be a strong weekend for the BMW 125i M Sport driver by taking third in the final reverse grid race.
“This was a really tough weekend. We knew it was going to be tough on the car here because we struggle with straight-line speed. After qualifying I just felt the championship was slipping away,” said Collard.
“Race one I think was one of my best races to claw that back. Race two we thought we'd be better but we just seemed to struggle with the soft tyre and that was the race where I felt we could have really taken some good points.
“It was still a good finish that put us on the reverse grid. The initial laps in race three I was a bit slow. I didn't have the pace of Shedden and Jackson but in the end I was all over Jackson. With Jason [Plato] right on my bumper I couldn't attack Mat too much.”
Collard briefly led the final race but the 47-year old was simply blown away by eventual race winner Gordon Shedden after reigning champion pulled off a miraculous manoeuvre around the outside of the BMW at Maggotts.
“Gordon said to me 'was there a problem with your engine?' But that was all I had! He got a run on me and just drove around the outside of me. There was nothing I could do. I was flat on the throttle.
“Gordon definitely carried a bit more speed than me through turn one and had the run on me. But we're right down on all the speed traps and that tell its own story. For us to get a podium I'm absolutely delighted.”
17-points behind his team mate Tordoff and one of eight drivers in contention to take this season's title, Collard says he's never known a touring car campaign quite as competitive as this one.
“This is the most competitive year I've known in touring cars. I'm pleased I'm part of it and at the top end. Last year it all started slipping away from me with a few shunts and incidents which were outside of my control.
“This year we've been able to maintain that championship fight so let's get to Brands Hatch and have a good one,” Collard concluded.