The eBay Motors team was left to reflect on a day of missed opportunities after the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season resumed at Snetterton.
The team went into the weekend buoyed by a strong end to the opening half of the year at Croft prior, and a solid showing in a two-day Dunlop test held at Snetterton last month, where it’s three NGTC-spec BMW 125i M-Sports showed encouraging speed.
Qualifying had seen Colin Turkington leading the eBay Motors challenge with the fifth quickest time, although it was a more difficult session for team-mates Rob Collard and Nick Foster, who had to settle for 16th and 20th on the grid for race one.
All three drivers elected to run the soft compound Dunlop tyre in the first race of the day, with Colin making up a place when the lights went out and then running in fourth spot to the finish. A solid run for Rob saw him come through to tenth, while Nick also made progress up the order to 14th despite being forced to complete the race with a wasp buzzing around inside his car.
Another strong start in race two saw Colin jump up to second and then he then took the lead when the MG of Jason Plato slowed ahead. The 2009 champion produced a masterful defensive performance until he was tipped into a spin by Andrew Jordan, dropping him down to sixth at the finish.
Rob was a man on form as he battled his way up the order to run well inside the top ten, but his race would also end in disappointing fashion when he was hit by Gordon Shedden while making a move for position at Nelson. The hit from the Honda was enough to break his rear suspension, forcing Rob to then spin off when he went to turn in to the Bombhole. Nick meanwhile would battle throughout against a fuel pump issue, but brought his car to the finish in twelfth.
Third on the grid for race three, Colin rocketed away from the line to lead but saw his advantage cut by an early Safety Car period. On the restart he kept his lead until being tipped into a spin by Shedden at Agostini. The end result was another sixth place finish.
Forced to come through from the rear of the field after his earlier retirement, Rob took ninth place despite losing positions mid-way through when he ran slightly wide exiting Nelson, while Nick followed him home in tenth despite picking up a puncture in the closing laps.
Colin ends the weekend fourth in the championship standings with Nick in 13th and Rob 15th, while the trio sit second, ninth and tenth in the Independents’ Trophy.
eBay Motors meanwhile has closed in on a top three position in the HiQ Teams’ Championship and has strengthened its second position in the Independents’ Team Trophy.
Colin Turkington (4th/6th/6th):
“We knew our car wasn’t the quickest here, but we found ourselves out front in two of the races and I knew I would have to defend hard to try and keep my position. However, on both occasions, people have driven into me in order to get ahead and there is nothing fun in leading the race and then losing eight places because you’ve been turned around. If you’d told me before the start of the day that I’d have three top six finishes then I would have taken it, but to have been taken out of the lead twice is frustrating and has turned the weekend into something of a missed opportunity for us.”
Rob Collard (10th/Ret/9th):
“The car today was really good but yet again it’s been a weekend where luck didn’t go my way. I was on the back foot after a difficult qualifying session but managed to make up places in the first race and looked in a good position for race two. However, for the third meeting in a row, I got involved in an incident that spoiled it all. Gordon had pulled a move on me earlier and when I’d caught him back up, I tried to make a classic touring car move and he just turned in and hit me so hard it broke the suspension. That put me on the back foot again for race three. My luck has to improve, and hopefully things will go better when we get to Knockhill.”
Nick Foster (14th/12th/10th):
“I made a few errors in qualifying that meant I was lower on the grid than I should have been, and this is a circuit where it is hard work to make up places when you are running lower boost levels than the cars around you. In the first race, I had to contend with a wasp in the car and ended up with a smashed window while trying to kill it, then in race two, I had a fuel pump problem that affected the straight-line speed. Race three was stronger but I came in at the end with a rear puncture that may have affected things late on, although I was able to keep pace with Rob and Matt Neal ahead. We moved forward again in the races, but I need to work on getting more out of qualifying in the coming rounds..”