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Collard: “The eBay Motors’ 1-Series is very good”

Monday, March 25 2013

Rob Collard faces a double challenge this weekend (30/31 March) at the opening round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch. Not only will he be driving a brand new car but he also faces a tough new team mate - returning former BTCC champion Colin Turkington.

Rob finished fifth in the championship last year - a strong performance considering that he was racing a pensionable BMW 3-Series built to previous-generation rules. He also saw off the challenge of Tom Onslow-Cole, a bona fide championship contender no less.

However the reset button has been hit and Rob's first battle is to get the new NGTC-specification eBay Motors 1-Series up to speed. It's not been easy thanks to a shortage of development time. "We've had limited testing," he confessed. "The car has done little running but it does have the ingredients to be fast. It's a very competitive championship now, so we're expecting a tough weekend.

"The car's very good - I've only driven it twice for about 100 laps on two very cold days! That's not good for the BMW as it doesn't work its tyres hard, so we've struggled a bit. It's more nervous being shorter (than the 3-Series) but that all makes for exciting racing. It should be every bit as competitive as the old car."

Whilst he may not be able to compare himself against the rest of the field, the presence of Turkington in the other car will provide an immediate benchmark. "I think the combination will work well," Rob predicted. "I've always had fast team mates - Colin, Tom Onslow-Cole, Johnny Adam, Steven Kane; I've always seemed to be partnered with one!

"I think I'm in a good team with a good car and that opportunity brings out the best in a driver. It takes a while to learn Touring Car racing and to get the right opportunity with the right team. I've moulded myself to the team." He's also aware that harmony between team mates is a hot topic in motorsport just now: "I can refer to classic situations where I've obeyed team orders. They've cost me places but it's something that you do."

For now Rob returns to Brands Hatch, where his 2012 season got off to the perfect start with a win in the opening race of the year. Whilst he doesn't expect a repeat, he'll be spectacular to watch, especially between Surtees and Clearways: "This is one of my favourite parts of track in the UK - you're in fifth gear and running the white line on the right before a slight lift, and using all of the kerb on the left, it's fantastic!"

Tickets for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch this weekend (30/31 March) are available from £26, with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click here.