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BTCC’s Rob Collard: "It’s going to be so close"

Monday, September 26 2016

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship contender Rob Collard will leave no stone unturned in his quest to win his first overall title at Brands Hatch this weekend (1/2 October).

Collard, who celebrates his 48th birthday on Saturday, enters his first title showdown since making his BTCC debut in 2000. The WSR BMW driver is fourth place in the championship, just 17 points off the title lead, gives him great deal of pride.

"Every year the BTCC seems to get tougher and more competitive," Rob said. "To be going into the final round and to be lying in fourth place within touching distance of the lead is a fantastic achievement. When I look back at the first round at Brands Hatch and I was challenging for the lead with Tom Ingram [the pair collided], you look back now and where that would have put me if I'd have won that race or got a podium. The season's been very up-and-down, it's been a great championship to be part of and the most competitive Touring Car championship in the world."

With a record 12 different winners and an incredibly close title race, it's a year that has favoured experienced drivers such as Rob and rivals including multiple champions Matt Neal and Jason Plato. "I also feel the equalisation amongst the cars has been good," he adds. "As much as we'd like to have more power in the BMW, the way the rules are written now with equalisation on turbo boost and weight, no one person can get away and as you've seen I've led the championship twice this year, my team-mate's led it and you can't really break away."

Rob's team-mate Sam Tordoff still holds the title lead, but with such a small gap and both Honda drivers between the pair, there's a need for the WSR drivers to take a strategic view. "We're both there to win for ourselves," Rob said. "As long as one of us wins for WSR and BMW, that's all that matters really and if it's him or me, great. We're not going to do anything detrimental to hurt each other's chances, but collectively we also know we've got to do what's best for ourselves.

"It's so hard - you look at the Focus, the Hondas and my team-mate, it's going to be so close. I don't see the Subarus being the main championship threat, they're too far back, however I do feel the Focus will be strong because of the power it's got and you can't underestimate the two Honda drivers.

"I don't think you can really have too much of a strategy when the championship is as close as it is, you've got to go out and maximise every single point and that's what I'm going to be doing this weekend. You can't afford to sit back and take it easy, not this weekend."

Rob's looking forward to challenging for the title at Brands Hatch, a venue that he relishes performing at. "I'd prefer if it was the shorter circuit, however I do feel the BMW is great in the fast corners, so what we lose down the straights we can definitely make up in the fast corners the Grand Prix circuit has. It's a fantastic opportunity to drive on the GP circuit, and it's one of my favourite circuits of all time."

Tickets for this weekend's BTCC finale at Brands Hatch on 1/2 October are available in advance from £27, with free entry for under-13s. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click   here.