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Ricky Collard: ‘I guarantee we will come back fighting’

Ricky Collard admitted that there were ‘a few tears in the garage’ after the final British Touring Car Championship race at Brands Hatch, in which the Toyota driver was denied a maiden win by a ten-second track limits penalty.

Collard led for all bar one lap of the 24-lap sprint race around the Indy circuit, crucially taking the chequered flag in first on the road to appear to score a first win.

But, after a fierce late-race battle with NAPA Racing UK’s Ash Sutton, Collard was given a ten-second time penalty for having been adjudged to have exceeded track limits too many times.

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The 26-year-old was thus classified in eighth, although it was nonetheless a strong weekend for the third-generation racer, who recorded a trio of top ten finishes and moved up to tenth overall in the drivers’ standings as a result.

“I was determined to put on a really good show for the fans in race three and give it absolutely everything, and I certainly did that,” said Collard of the final race. “I raced my heart out – I’d say it was one of the best drives of my career.

“I’ve competed against Ash for years, and I have huge respect for him. We’re both hungry and want to win and we raced hard, clean and fair.

“He’s world-class and a proper touring car driver, and we were side-by-side for about half of the final lap. He gave me a couple of ‘love taps’ and as soon as I realised he was alongside, I left him space.

“I got the switchback, we leant on each other and there was a bit of door-banging. That was great for the fans, and I think they were totally robbed by what happened afterwards.

“The Speedworks team is like a big family and there were a few tears in the garage, but at the end of the day, we win together and we lose together – and I guarantee we will come back fighting!”

Toyota Gazoo Racing UK Team Principal Christian Dick was full of praise for Collard after he came so close to a breakthrough win in the championship.

“The highs and lows of motorsport, I think they call that,” said Dick. “First and foremost, I want to congratulate Ricky on an absolutely incredible performance in race three. That was the drive of his life.

“To keep anybody behind for so long is impressive, but to keep Ash Sutton at bay – and then re-pass him after briefly conceding the lead – was genuinely outstanding.

“We all feel the pain of losing the win, but Ricky should take tremendous confidence from this, and his time will unquestionably come.”

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