Collard is having one of his strongest ever seasons
(Photo from: ww.btcc.net)
In this eight part series I will be looking at each of the eight drivers who have a mathematical chance of winning the 2016 British Touring Car Championship. The fifth instalment will look at fourth placed Rob Collard.
It is fair to say that 2016 has been one of Collards strongest seasons. Once again driving for WSR, having first raced for them in 2005 the 47 year old is a veteran of the sport, and like a fine wine has got better with age.
2015 was not a write off for Collard though having briefly led the championship at the opening weekend, though this year things started differently. After finishing sixth in the first race of the day, a sixteenth in the second left him out of the points and with a lot to do for the third. However Collard is a masterful overtaker, something he has proved time and time again in 2016, and worked his way back up to sixth in the final race of the day.
Donington saw collard return to form. Another sixth in the first race of the day was followed by his first victory of 2016 after another expert overtaking display saw him go from fifth on lap 12 to first on lap 15, overtaking Jackson for the lead in which he never looked back. A fourth in the final weekend of the day completed a strong weekend for Collard.
Onto Thruxton and a third consecutive race 1 sixth set Collard up nicely for the second race of the day. It was another fine display by Collard who started the race 17th. Collard then made further progress in the second race to come second behind Motorbase’s Andrew Jordan, and ended the day with another sixth. These three results propelled him to joint top in the standings.
However Oulton Park was a weekend to forget for Collard who came 23rd and 25th in the first two races as he struggled to make it through the pack after a poor qualifying. It is notoriously difficult to overtake around the Island Circuit although Collard was able to round of the weekend with a sixth sixth of the season in race 3.
Despite a poor Oulton Park, Croft was a much more successful weekend which started with a seventh place in race 1, again making up places through the field having started 13th. Though the second race was where Collard really shone, as he the Subaru duo of Plato and Turkington and his teammate Jack Goff, pulled away from the rest of the field. As the two Subaru’s battle for the lead, Plato went for a gap which ended in contact and the ever opportunistic WSR man slid up the inside to take the lead. Once out front he never looked back and went onto win his second race of the season. A fourth in the final race of the day capped a strong weekend off.
After the summer break it was time to head to Snetterton and once again Collard qualified poorly and struggled once again to make his way through the traffic in a car laden with ballast. Once the weight was off the Collard was able to charge in accustomed circumstances and, after a fantastic battle with Matt Neal he finished fourth. Another fantastic battle in the final race of the day, again coming out second best saw him finish second.
Knockhill was another round to forget for Collard, finishing outside the points in race 1 and DNF in race 3 after contact with Turkington mean that a fifth place in race 2 was his only reward for a trying weekend.
Collard has not been out the points since then however in a run which includes two third place finishes. Similar to Jordan, the BMW driver has mounted his championship on consistency, and has seen himself lead the series on multiple occasions, although his attempts for a first title would have been helped had it not been for his poor qualifying form. If Collard is in a strong position come Saturday afternoon, a 19 point gap could easily be overturned.