Rob Collard is currently one of the most experienced drivers in the British Touring Car Championship. He debuted in BTCC in 2000, collecting more than 440 starts since then. Collard was victorious in 14 races, but he never clinched the overall title.
His biggest success was the Independent's Cup title in 2003 while his career-best result in the overall standings was the 5th place in 2012 and 2017. Earlier in his career, he was driving Nissan, Renault, Vauxhall, MG and Seat touring cars. Since 2008 he regularly competes with BMWs.
Three generations of racers: Mick, Rob, Ricky and Jordan
Robert Collard was born on October 1, 1968, in Frimley, Hampshire. He is the second generation racer in a family, as his father Mick “Duffy” Collard was also a professional racing driver. He was the 1979 British Hot Rod Champion and 1980 Hot Rod World Champion. Rob's sons Ricky and Jordan are also racing drivers.
Following the footsteps of his father, Rob started the racing career with hot rods. In his late 20s, he switched to Formula Ford, competing from 1996 to 1998. His racing career was put on hold after he launched his own demolition company.
2000 - BTCC debut with Nissan
In 2000, Rob decided to return to motorsport, entering the British Touring Car Championship. He joined Bintcliffe Sport team to drive the #21 Nissan Primera in the recently launched Class B.
His best overall result was the 8th place at Croft Circuit, but he took few podiums and one win in the Class B competition and finished 4th in the class classification. He was the Class B winner at Snetterton.
2001 - Rob launched his own team Collard Racing
In 2001, Rob launched his own team Collard Racing and purchased Renault Clio 172 to compete in the Production Class of the BTCC. He finished 13th in the points, scoring only one class podium. The next season was disastrous, as he struggled with reliability problems. After the class podium and a victory in a season-opening race at Brands Hatch, problems with car forced him to skip three rounds and he finished 12th in the 2000 Production Class standings.
At the end of the season, he competed in six European Touring Car Championship races, driving the RJN Motorsport's Nissan Primera at Pergusa, Donington Park and Estoril.
BTCC Independent's Cup title in 2003
In the 2003 BTCC season, Collard Racing switched to Vauxhall Astra Coupe and moved into the main Touring Class. The #21 Astra was the victorious car in the Independent's Cup and Collard won his first title in a career, which remained the only title. In the overall standings, Collard was 10th.
In the 2004 BTCC season, there were fewer works teams, with MG pulling out and Honda scaling down to only one car. As a result, more competitive cars had an independent status, which Collard's #10 Astra had no chance of taking another title. He finished 6th in the Independent's Cup and 12th overall.
Maiden BTCC victory for Collard at Knockhill
For the 2005 season, Collard replaced independent champion Anthony Reid in West Surrey Racing's MG ZS, concentrating on the racing rather than team ownership. In August, at Knockhill Circuit, Collard scored his maiden BTCC victory, holding off the eventual champion Matt Neal. Collard scored one more win in the last race of the season at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit and finished seventh in the overall standings.
At the end of the season, he had a one-off appearance with GR Asia's Seat Toledo Cupra at the European Touring Car Cup at Vallelunga Circuit near Rome in Italy. He was 10th in the first race and 15th in the second race. It was his last international outing.
Controversial 2006 season
For 2006, WSR had two MG ZS cars under the banner of Team RAC. Collard's new teammate was Colin Turkington. While Turkington was among top drivers, finishing third in the points, Collard scored only one podium (3rd at Thruxton) and finished 9th in the points. The season was slightly controversial as Collard was often under criticism from fellow drivers because of his driving standards. He earned few penalties, almost losing a racing license.
For 2007 BTCC, Collard was without a drive, so he competed in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, driving for Team Parker Racing in the early rounds of the championship, but without notable results. He returned to the BTCC in the final round at Thruxton, driving the Seat Leon for GR Asia team.
Driving BMWs since 2008
In 2008, Rob joined Motorbase Performance to drive the #25 BMW 320si. He finished 12th in the points, without podiums and wins, while his teammate Steven Kane scored three podiums and finished 11th.
For the 2009 season, Collard remained in the Motorbase's BMW, with Jonny Adam as a new teammate. The team had a new sponsor and it was renamed to Airwaves BMW. Collard won his third BTCC race at the opening round at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit. Later he added one more win at Donington Park and finished sixth in the final standings. He was close to another win at Snetterton before crashing out after a contact with James Nash. Collard was taken to a hospital, Nash was excluded.
Re-joining West Surrey Racing for 2010 championship season
For the 2010 BTCC season, Collard returned to West Surrey Racing, replacing reigning champion Colin Turkington. The BMW 320si remained his car and it was a season without wins. Collard was on podiums seven times and he finished 8th in the final standings.
One more season without wins followed in 2011, still in the WSR's BMW 320si. With six podiums, Collard was again 8th in the points. His teammate in 2011 was Nick Foster.
Career-best season with three wins in 2012
In 2012, the most successful season followed. Rob won three races with eBay Motors #8 BMW 320si. He was the winner in the season-opening race at Brands Hatch and two times at Knockhill. He finished fifth in the overall standings and second among independent drivers, behind Andrew Jordan.
In 2013, the team re-signed Colin Turkington and introduced the new BMW 125i M Sport. Collard's eBay Motors #5 BMW achieved one podium (Knockhill) and he finished in 13th place overall. Turkington scored five wins and finished fifth in the points. In 2014, Collard's teammate Turkington was the champion for the second time in his career while Rob finished sixth in the points, scoring only one victory at Knockhill.
Three wins in 2015 BTCC season
The season of 2015 was very successful when it comes to his wins because Collard climbed on the top podium spot three times, at Brands Hatch, Croft and Knockhill. Despite a record number of wins in one season, he was only 10th in the points, behind his teammates Sam Tordoff and Andy Priaulx.
For the 2016 BTCC season, Collard remains with West Surrey Racing and drives the #100 BMW 125i M Sport for the Team JCT with GardX. It is his seventh consecutive season with WSR and ninth season in total. During the year, he won two times at Donington Park and Croft and entered the season's finale as one of eight championship contenders. He finished fifth in the championship points.
BMW factory driver in 2017
In 2017, BMW gives a factory support to West Surrey Racing, retaining Collard in the #5 BMW 125i M Sport, with Colin Turkington and Andrew Jordan as teammates.
Collard was a race winner at Thruxton and he was among the championship contenders until the 8th round at Rockingham, when he crashed out in the third race. Then, in the penultimate round at Silverstone, he was injured in the Race 1 crash, missing out the rest of the weekend and losing a chance to fight for the title. He also missed out the season's finale at Brands Hatch, finishing fifth in the championship.