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Rob Collard expects close BTCC fight at Oulton Park

Sunday, May 14 2017

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship title challenger Rob Collard heads to Oulton Park next weekend (20/21 May) within sight of the title lead and ready to fight at one of BMW's strongest circuits.

The BTCC veteran heads north on the back of a successful start to the season, with podium finishes in the opening three meetings. His BMW is expected to come on strong at Oulton Park, traditionally a circuit that favours rear-wheel-drive machinery.

"I couldn't have asked for a better start to 2017 if I'm honest," Rob said. "To have a podium for second place at Brands Hatch, and then to do that again at Donington was very good, and nobody from the team was expecting a double win at Thruxton.

"It was my first overall win [there] in Touring Cars. It was a very punchy race, which I really like, it suits my style and I was able to hold the Honda off. It gives me a lot of confidence going forward because there are tracks where we've known we've struggled at and to know that we've won now at Thruxton gives me a lot of hope for other tracks where I've struggled."

Before Rob gets to those tracks, he'll race at Oulton Park, one of three venues in the next four events that favour rear-wheel-drive cars such as his BMW 125i M-Sport. "Well let's hope so," he said. "Touring Cars now is so close and competitive; the whole field has closed up. The advantage we've had at other tracks I just hope we can continue as it is unpredictable at the moment."

Rob will need that trend to continue to close the gap on title leader Tom Ingram in the front-wheel-drive Toyota Avensis. "The Toyota seems to be very strong in qualifying," Rob said. "So yes, between us all we've got to try and do something to stem his lead.

"There are so many cars that you could predict to be in the top four in qualifying at Oulton Park. It's not just the championship contenders at the front, it could be from 20 different drivers, the list is endless."

Rob's strengths tend to lie in racing rather than qualifying, and his overtaking skills were showcased at last year's Cheshire round. This time round he'll be hoping for much better results: "Oulton Park was not great for me last year, I got taken out in race one by Jeff Smith, had to battle back through in race two then got a puncture with Josh Cook. However Oulton Park is my favourite circuit to drive in the whole country."

Tickets for the BTCC at Oulton Park on 20/21 May are available from £27, with free entry for under-13s. For more information, call 0843 453 9000 or click here.