Ricky Collard enjoyed ‘being in contention’ all weekend in the British Touring Car Championship races at Knockhill, as the Toyota racer enjoyed his best weekend in touring cars to-date.
Collard had been quick out of the box in Scotland, topping a soaking first practice, before going on to qualify his Corolla in 11th, just missing out on Q2 by half a tenth of a second.
A dramatic opening race saw Collard make an early call to pit for wet tyres, which ultimately proved to be the right choice as he found himself in sixth at the chequered flag.
The Speedworks Motorsport driver’s fortunes then improved further, as two cars ahead were excluded from the result for failing the post-race ride-height check, and Stephen Jelley was given a one-second penalty for gaining an unfair advantage.
In his 49th race with the team, Collard thus earned a first podium finish of the season and his first since 2018.
In a dry race two, Collard fell back a place behind Árón Taylor-Smith at the start, but gained a place back past Andrew Watson after that to end the race in sixth.
Randomly drawn to start on the front row of the grid for race three, Collard ultimately finished in fifth in another eventful wet race, meaning he left Knockhill with the third-highest points score of the weekend.
“The Corolla felt mega in FP1 and it was great to be so quick out-of-the-box,” said Collard, who is now up to eighth overall in the drivers’ standings. “I never shy away from conditions like that, and I was doing a few rain dances as I really wanted it to stay wet.
“The car was well hooked-up in qualifying too, but I didn’t manage to get a clear lap in at the end of the session when the track was at its best.
“Race day was a lot of fun, I have to say. The first one was just crazy, but we made the right call on tyres and kept it on the black stuff; after having a top three finish taken away from us more than once, it was a good feeling to end up third.
“We were in contention for the podium in the other two races as well, but I made a couple of mistakes in the conditions – as did most drivers, to be fair – and it was still satisfying to come away with a couple of top sixes.
“Most of all, though, I enjoyed being properly in the fight. I’m a racer and I like to go racing – and we certainly did that!”
Christian Dick, Team Principal of Toyota Gazoo Racing UK, was pleased to see Collard finally score a top three result with the team.
“We’ve definitely made some gains with the Corolla since Croft, and we went to Knockhill feeling in pretty good shape,” said Dick.
“We showed in free practice that the car was quick in both the wet and the dry, and Rory [Butcher] excelled in qualifying to end up so close to pole.
“Ricky didn’t quite put the lap together but his pace was clear to see, while George [Gamble] was always going to be up against it after missing all of FP2 and in the circumstances, he performed admirably.
“Race day was then equally wild, and all three drivers battled hard throughout. Ricky and George built a very solid foundation in the first one – and we were delighted to see Ricky finally come away with a top three finish – but Rory’s luck ran out when the rain came as his gamble to stay on slicks unfortunately backfired.
“It was fantastic to take the manufacturers’ trophy in race two and we completed the weekend with another very solid result in race three, so all-in-all, in what were very challenging conditions, I think we can say it was a job well done.”