Ricky Collard says he feels a first podium finish in the British Touring Car Championship in Toyota machinery is ‘definitely coming’ after the Speedworks Motorsport driver had his best weekend of the season so far at Oulton Park.
After ending the morning’s two practice sessions in seventh and 16th respectively, Collard, 26, was fourth fastest in Q1, before improving to put his Corolla third quickest in Q2, just under half a second off the pole time set by Ash Sutton.
At the start of the opening race of the day, Collard held third for the opening four laps, before losing out to reigning champion Tom Ingram.
However, he held fourth thereafter, despite coming under sustained pressure from the Ford of Dan Cammish behind.
Collard then ran in fourth for the first half of race two, before losing out to Colin Turkington at the mid-point. In the closing laps, the third-generation racer was edged onto the grass and lost further places, ultimately taking the finish in ninth.
In the final race of the day, Collard gained two places at the start to advance to seventh, but on the less favourable hard tyre, he was unable to keep the soft-tyre shod Aiden Moffat and Daniel Rowbottom behind, leaving him to take the chequered flag where he started in ninth.
Despite missing out on a first podium with the team, Collard claimed a trio of top ten finishes – including his best result of the season in race one – to take his run of top tens to five races in a row – a career-best for Collard.
Those results mean the Surrey racer’s confidence is high going into the six-week summer break, before the BTCC resumes at Croft on 29 – 30 July.
“I was really happy with third place in qualifying,” said Collard. “The team gave me an absolutely unreal car – the Corolla was just fantastic – and it was a proper lap, one of the best I’ve ever done around Oulton.
“That put us in a really good position for the races, when I was looking forward to getting my teeth stuck in.
“We had a lot of fans and guests supporting us and I really wanted to put on a show for them all and reward the team with that elusive podium.
“I think race one was the maximum we could do. The car felt good and I managed to keep Cammish behind me, which was positive, although I was hoping it would come to me slightly more towards the end.
“It was a shame we couldn’t quite take it to the boys in front and I got roughed up a bit in race two, but we still came away with a decent sackful of points.
“There was no champagne again, unfortunately, but it’s coming, it’s definitely coming…”
Christian Dick, Team Principal of Toyota Gazoo Racing UK, was pleased to see Collard perform in front of a large contingent of guests for the locally-based team.
“Oulton Park is always a big weekend for us with so many guests on-site, and Ricky treated them to what was probably one of the laps of the season on Saturday as he hustled his Corolla to third on the grid,” said Dick.
“That was a superb effort, and set him up well for a really strong points haul on race day.
“Now it’s time to go back to the workshop to analyse everything we have learned so far, regroup and re-assess – and then return ready to truly attack the second half of the season at Croft next month.”