7 MAY BTCC BRANDS HATCH
Ricky Collard looked odds-on for his first ever British Touring Car Championship win in the third race of the day at Brands, but instead saw it snatched away with two laps to go after a time penalty was added for infringing track limits.
Collard seemingly didn’t know that he had a penalty added on to his time as he fought to be first to take the chequered flag and even attempted to go into Parc Ferme for the post-race celebrations.
While Toyota Gazoo Racing UK ponder what might have been, the disqualification elevated Tom Ingram to third place while Colin Turkington bagged more points in fifth following his very impressive win in Race one.
Toyota Gazoo Racing UK’s woes weren’t limited to Ricky’s disqualification: Teammates Rory Butcher and George Gamble who initially started at the front were dogged with punctures and oil issues respectively which meant that a a day that promised so much ultimately ended in disappointment.
COBRA SEATS CUSTOMER TEAM PROFILE: Toyota Gazoo Racing UK
Formed in 2005, Speedworks Motorsport entered the BTCC in 2011, becoming one of the first teams to field an NGTC-spec car with a Toyota Avensis for Tony Hughes. The Cheshire-based operation branched out in 2012 by adding a second car for championship debutant Adam Morgan.
That helped the squad to tenth in the final Teams’ standings that year and sixth in the Independents’ title chase.
For 2014, the outfit slimmed down to a single-car entry for the up and coming Tom Ingram, whilst offering support to the Handy Motorsport squad.
Speedworks retained Ingram for 2015 and – coupled with engineering upgrades to the Toyota over the off-season – its young driver claimed two podiums on his way to 13th in the overall standings.
Having finally reached the BTCC rostrum, the partnership continued into 2016 gaining their first outright win at the curtain-raising round at Brands Hatch. A further triumph followed at Silverstone later on in the campaign.
Ingram took to the grid in 2017 in a newly-facelifted Toyota Avensis and pushed things on to the next level with four victories on his way to third in the overall table, and top of the tree in the Independents’ championships for both driver and team.
Ingram went even closer in 2018, taking the title battle right down to the wire with wins at Brands Hatch, Donington Park and Silverstone. He narrowly missed out on the coveted Drivers’ crown by just 12 points in a straight fight with multiple champion Colin Turkington, but did once again seal the Independents’ laurels for both himself and his team.
Speedworks acquired Toyota factory backing for 2019, becoming Team Toyota GB with Ginsters and transitioning to a Manufacturer entry as Ingram scored four victories behind the wheel of the brand new Toyota Corolla.
Ingram remained with the team in 2020 as Speedworks rebranded to become Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters, and enjoyed a number of podium finishes and wins, including an impressive double win at Thruxton.
2021 marked a new chapter for the team as it expands to a two-car line-up of Rory Butcher and Sam Smelt, with a number of visits to the rostrum for the squad throughout the campaign. Silverstone marked a particularly strong weekend for the squad, with Butcher topping the times in both Free Practice sessions and qualifying before bagging an impressive double victory.
The team then retained the services of Butcher for 2022, with Ricky Collard joining Toyota GAZOO Racing UK in his first full campaign in the BTCC. Butcher raced an impressive campaign, continuing his dominance at Silverstone and ending the season with a double podium – securing fifth place in the overall drivers’ standings. After a tricky start, Collard also found his groove, regularly taking points positions.
Butcher and Collard will are joined by George Gamble in 2023, after his exciting debut to the series last previous season. Gamble’s two podium finishes and 13th overall in the Drivers Championship, certainly sets the team up for a competitive year.
COBRA SEATS CUSTOMER DRIVER PROFILE: Ricky Collard
Ricky Collard made his BTCC debut at Rockingham in 2018 as a substitute for his father and BTCC stalwart, Rob at Team BMW.
The then 22-year-old joined Colin Turkington at the WSR-run team at Rockingham and the following round at Knockhill while Rob recovered from a concussion sustained as a result of two high-speed incidents at Snetterton in July.
Collard tackled his first full year in the Championship in 2022, with Toyota GAZOO Racing UK. After a tricky first half of the campaign, Collard seemed to find his groove in the latter part of the season and began to regularly take the chequered flag in the points-paying positions.
Returning with the Northwich-based squad for the 2023 season, Collard is aiming to build on his strengths in the Toyota Corolla GR Sport.