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Rob Collard: “We’re here to win races”

West Surrey Racing’s Rob Collard believes he is ready to put a difficult 2013 behind him and get back to winning ways when the new British Touring Car Championship begins alter this month.

While teammate Colin Turkington was able to mount a championship challenge after three years away from the series, Collard endured one of his worst BTCC campaigns since he joined the sport in 2000.

But with eBay motors renewing their sponsorship of the team, and the outfit having tested the machine significantly in the off-season, Collard, speaking at the series’ media day at Donington Park on Tuesday, was confident of avoiding a similar fate in 2014.

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“Last year was a disaster at the start,” said the 45-year-old. “We sat in the car on the Sunday morning at Brands Hatch and then we had three engine failures during that weekend and then a few other problems going forward. In qualifying we had reliability issues that really put me on the back foot – so having a car now that was very good at the end of last season, with the improvements the team have made over the winter and the tests we’ve had so far in pre-season – the car is looking very strong.

“We’ve had four test days which is much more than last year – we did no testing.”

Collard, who lines up for the squad for the sixth time this season, was hopeful that with added mileage under his belt, 2014 will provide him with an opportunity to capture his form from previous years.

“2012 was a very good year for me; we had good success and some wins. Unfortunately last year a few of the issues were outside of my control and we weren’t quick enough when we needed it be, but preparation over the winter has gone really well,” said Collard. “I’m fit, I’m very capable and I just want to be in a car that gives me that opportunity and I believe the eBay BMW will.”

The Hampshire-based driver was also keen to stress the importance of performing well in every race, given the quality and quantity of the opposition in the series.

“It’s going to be virtually impossible to come from the back of the grid with 30 cars out there, all NGTC specification, all with pretty good drivers. You’re going to have to be a pretty good driver just to get in the top 15 so to start from the back and expect to come through like some people have in the past is going to be impossible.”

When drawn on the Jack Sears Trophy format for 2014, Collard insisted that his eyes were focused firmly on the front of the field.

“That’s going to be there for some people on the grid and I’m hoping we’re not in that and we’re scoring more consistent points.

“That’s like winning the Dunlop spirit of the weekend award – it’s a fantastic award and very generous of Dunlop to put it up but it’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to win races and to run at the front, and if you can win races you’ll be at the sharp end of the championship and that’s the only thing I’m focusing on.”

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