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‘Home’ race for reigning champion

Brands Hatch this coming weekend hosts its second MSA Green Flag British Touring Car Championship race meeting of the 2004 season, with Rob Collard and his Collard Racing team aiming for a strong performance. When the series visited in April, Rob tasted the highs and lows of motorsport – starting one race from pole position, before having to visit the pits after the bonnet on his Vauxhall Astra flew open in dramatic style while he was in the lead group of cars.

While looking to repeat the good grid slot – but not the attention grabbing bonnet incident – Rob and his family run team are also looking forward to racing closer to their Eversley, Hampshire, home than in recent BTCC meetings.

“It’s good to be racing at Brands Hatch this weekend as at last we are racing near home again!” says Rob. “The last three rounds have been at Mondello Park in Ireland, Croft in Yorkshire and Knockhill in Scotland, but at least this weekend we can get home in under an hour and that means we can have lots of family and friends along. It’s a ‘home’ race for us.

“Brands is the only circuit we visit twice, and we had a few problems when we were there earlier in the year. Gearbox niggles meant we didn’t do a lot of running in Free Practice and qualifying, then we came through to tenth in the first race which saw us start from pole for the first time in the second round of the day. That was the race where my bonnet flew open and I had to pit, losing us a good result. In the final race one of the works Protons took me off.

“The Astra’s engine has been away being worked on since Knockhill, in fact as of today [Wednesday] we are still waiting for it back. It turns out we had another gasket problem at Knockhill which was hurting our power output, so hopefully it should be back to its best now. The guys have done a lot of work on the car in the last ten days and it looks perfect – except for the missing engine!

“I’d like to qualify well this weekend as Brands Hatch always means close tight racing. If we are not near the front of the grid for the first race, then we’ll be looking for that tenth place finish which would see us on pole for the second race. Some top six finishes from then on would be good, that’s where we are capable of finishing and that is what we are targeting.”

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