Ricky Collard will step in to his father Rob’s race seat for the next two British Touring Car Championship races at Rockingham and Knockhill, after Rob Collard was advised to stand down on medical grounds.
22-year-old Collard will make his BTCC début at Rockingham, after his father was ruled out of the event on medical grounds after a crash at Snetterton at the end of July.
Ricky has been an official BMW Motorsport Junior Driver for the past two seasons, competing in ADAC GT Masters, the 24H Series, the Blancpain GT series and the British GT Championship. IN ADAC GT Masters he raced a BMW M6 GT3, taking two podiums in 2017.
He got his first experience in BTCC machinery when he made a test début with WSR in November 2017 at Silverstone. He will be the fifth youngest driver on the grid this weekend, after Senna Proctor, Aiden Moffat, Bobby Thompson and Sam Smelt.
He has also worked in the DTM as a race taxi driver, a reserve driver and co-commentator.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for me,” said Ricky. “I’ve been around the BTCC paddock throughout my childhood and teenage years watching Dad race – mostly with WSR – and I’ve been desperate to compete in the series for a long time, especially for a team with their record of success.
“While I never wanted my debut to be under circumstances like this, Team BMW are one of the best in the BTCC, have won the championship for the past two seasons and are right in the thick of the title battle again.
“My target is to do the best job I can and help score as many points as possible for the Teams’ and Manufacturers’ championships.”
Rob explained that his standing down from driving duties was as an extra precaution, given the uncertainty surrounding concussion.
“Concussion – in motorsport, and many other sports – is something the medical profession is working hard to understand better,” explained Rob. “The advice for now is to sit out Rockingham and Knockhill, but if I can’t be in the car, the next best thing for me is to see another Collard in there.
“I’m extremely proud that Ricky will drive the ‘Collard’ Team BMW car. Giving him the benefit of my knowledge and experience of the 125i M Sport and the BTCC, alongside Ricky’s pace as a BMW Motorsport Junior, we have everything to play for, with the key objective to support the hunt for the Teams’ and Manufacturers’ titles.”
WSR Team Principal Dick Bennetts is looking forward to working with Ricky once again following his test with the team at the end of last season.
“While we’re extremely sorry for Rob and wish him a speedy return, we’re pleased to be able to give Ricky Collard, a young driver with a huge amount of talent, an opportunity to drive the Team BMW 125i M Sport at Rockingham and Knockhill,” said Bennetts.
“Ricky tested the BMW with us last November and was extremely impressive. For a young driver who had never been behind the wheel of a touring car before, his pace and – in particular – his technical feedback, were very strong.
“It will be very important to use the free practice sessions wisely as we try to get him up to speed as quickly as possible. I’m sure he’ll do a good job.”