The joy was clear to see as Ricky Collard put in his best ever qualifying performance in the British Touring Car Championship, placing his Toyota in third at Oulton Park.
The Toyota Gazoo Racing UK team had hidden some unfortunate spells of bad luck at times in 2023. Collard believes that is going to take a turn going forwards.
“My best qualifying performance so far for Toyota in Speedworks, so really happy to produce a really good lap on what is their local circuit,” Collard told TouringCars.Net.
“We’ve got a lot of Toyota guests here tomorrow. Just to be going off the second row on the inside, with a clear run into the first corner, is really good.
“We’ve got a great race car, we work quite a bit actually on our race performance, race pace in FP2, and it’s looking really strong, so if we can keep that race pace up, it’s crazy.
“Honestly, I was going into it and I was like, I don’t even think we’re going to make super pole, and then all of a sudden we’ve made super pole with P3 and it’s our best qualifying. So really happy with that and just continue to build on it tomorrow.”
TouringCars.Net spoke to teammate Rory Butcher about there being ‘more to come’ from Toyota engine earlier in the season. That conversation happened the race before the Scot’s engine blew. A few races later and Collard believes the Toyota package is heading in the right direction.
“Yes, definitely, and Neil Brown guys have just been really, really helpful and we’ve got a lot of work still to do with our engine, but we’re just ticking them boxes as we’re going along.
“Just really good support and we’re finding performance in just the little things and tidying up the little things. The actual straight line performance as we see at the moment with speed traps isn’t the quickest.
“So we know we’ve got a lot of work to do on that, but we’re just extracting the most out of it in the other areas, and just that the whole package is sort of coming together now quite nicely.”
After a positive qualifying, Sunday looks like a lottery in terms of weather and track temperature. This has not phased Collard one bit. When asked about how he feels about going into Sunday, he only had one thing to say.
“I just love it, I love racing. We’re going on P3 tomorrow, [and hope for a] good run into the first corner. If it rains, it rains; I would actually like it to stay dry. It’d be fun if we could
win that one wet race, but yeah, I’m pretty open really to conditions.”