PMR’s Rob Collard scores home podium at Thruxton
Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing returned to the super-fast Thruxton circuit in Hampshire for rounds 19, 20 and 21 of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship, where local man Rob Collard would end the weekend on the podium.
Qualifying saw Collard and Jason Plato slot into P10 and P2, respectively, with Plato securing his first front row start since Brands Hatch in April.
Race one saw Plato receive a drive through penalty for lining up outside of his grid box. From P10, Collard made a great start to move immediately into P8, before sliding into P7.
Plato re-joined stone last (30th) and, by lap seven, had sliced through the backmarkers into P24, keeping the pressure to move forward to finish P17.
Team-mate Collard meanwhile was closing in on the BMW of Tom Oliphant in fifth for the second time, before running out of laps and finishing sixth.
From the third row, Collard made a great move inside Oliphant through the Complex to move into P4 and right on the tail of the leaders and challenging for the podium.
By lap seven Plato was also flying, closing in on the battle for P7 and looking well on course to move into the top ten. The intense competition however saw Plato drop to P13 at the flag.
Collard was also in the thick of things in a great battle for the last podium place. The #9 Astra flew down the inside on the run down to Church, only to be squeezed at the apex; Collard dropped back to P6 but exemplified his speed with the third fastest race lap.
At the lights for the final race of the day, Collard kept his focus and made a great start to lead into the right, left, right Complex and away onto the high-speed curves around the back of the circuit.
Also showing great speed, Plato had moved into P9, only for Collard to lose the lead after a big slide at Church left him defenceless going into the chicane on lap ten.
By this point the rain was starting to fall more heavily, challenging the grip of the slick Dunlop tyres as well as the drivers’ skill. Into the closing stages, Collard had pulled clear of his pursuers to hold station in a comfortable second place and Plato had expertly fought his way past to grab a final fifth place finish at the flag.
“Really happy for the team, with two P6 and a podium,” said Collard. “Obviously gutted that we didn’t get a win. I’m pretty sure that had it not rained we had that in the bag, as I’d pulled out a measured gap and had it all under control. It would’ve been brilliant to take our first win in the car at my home circuit, but I’m leaving happy with that. The car felt great this weekend; I’m finally getting the hang of this front wheel drive malarkey again.”
“Race one was really frustrating, for obvious reasons, and has left a bit of a sour note on the day for me,” said Plato. “But all credit to the team, the car was great today and showed some amazing pace. I’ve had some great racing today and really enjoyed it. Race three was a positive end to the day for sure, and I think we’ve proved between Rob and I that we’re right on the pace, and will be aiming for the sharp end come Knockhill.”
“Coming back to Thruxton gave us a great benchmark to show our progress, though I don’t think we’re leaving with the results we quite deserve,” said Team Principal Adam Weaver. “I’m really pleased with the pace and race craft both drivers showed throughout the day, though obviously race one was really unfortunate for Jason. Both drove really well through the day, which the results show, and it was great to see Rob up on the podium again. That double podium has to be close now, surely?”