Crash.Net BTCC News
Collard carries eBay to opening victory
1 April 2012
Rob Collard has taken victory in the opening Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race of the season after a dramatic opener at Brands Hatch.
In the first race for eBay Motors using turbo engines in its BMWs, Collard saw off the challenge of defending champion Matt Neal and team-mate Tom Onslow-Cole to take his first win since 2009 and a first win for the team since the same season.
Collard had led at the start after forcing his way ahead of poleman Dave Newsham but was then knocked back to third as both Neal and Newsham got back ahead at Paddock Hill Bend. Collard was then demoted to fourth by Jason Plato's MG but was in the right place at the right time when Newsham went for the lead at Paddock and Plato attempted to follow him through ahead of Neal's Honda.
The MG hit the rear of Newsham's car, putting the ES Racing man in the gravel and delaying both Plato and Neal, which allowed Collard to nip through into the lead.
From there, after a lengthy Safety Car period to remove Newsham's car and the Focus of Aron Smith from the Druids gravel trap, Collard held on to secure the first win of the new season despite Neal's best effort to find a way through on the final lap.
Onslow-Cole took third after a drag race to the line with Plato's MG, the double champion being forceful throughout in the first race of the new NGTC-spec car, while Gordon Shedden and Andrew Jordan rounded out the top six. Shedden appeared to be suffering with an issue on his car as he seemed to slow on a number of occasions while Jordan nursed damage from a first lap clash with Newsham throughout.
Mat Jackson, Rob Austin, Nick Foster and Jeff Smith rounded out the top ten, while the revised scoring system that sees the top 15 score meant first points for Ollie Jackson in 13th and Chris James in 15th.
Aside from Newsham and Smith, Adam Morgan saw his BTCC debut end in the tyre wall at Paddock Hill on lap one after a clash with Andy Neate's MG, Frank Wrathall managed a lap before a gearbox issue brought him in and John Thorne ended up in the gravel after a spin in his repaired Insignia.