WORDS BY ROB HANSFORD | PHOTOS BY PHD PHOTO / BTCC
The Collard family is no stranger to the world of the British Touring Car Championship. Rob Collard competed in the series between 2000 and 2017, securing 15 victories alongside winning the Independent’s Cup in 2003. But now, a new generation of the Collard family is entering the fold, with Ricky Collard getting his first full-time drive in the championship for 2022.
It would be easy to think Ricky is getting a drive based purely on his surname, but don’t be fooled. He started out in a singleseater racing career, finishing runner-up in the British Formula 3 championship in 2016, but then made the switch to sportscar racing, winning races in GT Masters and Blancpain GT World Challenge.
He also starred on his previous outings in the BTCC. In 2018 he stepped in to replace his father at West Surrey Racing for the final four weekends of the season, and despite his lack of touring car experience, he impressed, securing his maiden podium result at Silverstone.
He passed the initial test, but now the real challenge begins.
Having joined the Speedworks-run Toyota team, driving a Corolla GR Sport alongside Rory Butcher, Collard now needs to be consistent enough to be at the sharp end for the entire season. Not only that, this will also pose the first time Collard races a front-wheel drive car and that will take some getting used to.
“I’ve got no preconceived ideas. I’ve never driven a front-wheel drive car ever, and even my road cars have always been rear-wheel drive,” explained Collard.
“I’m just sort of settling into it and there’s so much to learn. It’s great!
“I don’t really know how a front-wheel drive car should behave anyway, so I’m just giving complete, honest, open feedback on how I feel the car is performing, and we’re just making steps in the right direction.”
Collard’s preparation before the start of the season has been limited to just a few days of running, but while he hasn’t lit the timescreen up with purple sectors, it’s not about outright pace at this stage. It’s about learning the car, establishing the limits and he’s putting no pressure on himself to get top three results within a certain timescale.
“I’ve only done two days and this is my second day in the car,” Collard explained at the BTCC’s season launch at Thruxton.
“I missed Croft because I had salmonella poisoning. There’s not much of me anyway and I lost another five or six kilos and so I’m just trying to build myself up.
“We didn’t really do much running this morning. I went out right at the end, found a lot of time then and improved by like a second. But again, every lap I do I just get a little bit quicker and I’m just progressing all the time and we haven’t really plateaued yet, which is great, and I don’t want to. I just want to keep learning.
“It’s so nice to have no aspirations. I know it’s a cliche, but yeah, I have no experience. I’ve done a couple of races, never done a full season.
“I haven’t done a full season [of racing] since 2016 and just every time I put my crash helmet on, I’m just smiling.
“I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain, so I'm just going to go out there and have fun.”
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