This weekend, the first round of the British Touring Car Championship kicks off at Donington Park. Last week, Speedworks/Toyota Gazoo Racing UK unveiled its new Motul-inspired livery and welcomed new driver Ricky Collard to the team. We caught up with Ricky to see how he’s settling into the team, and what he thinks of the Motul-lubricated Corolla.
TOYOTA GAZOO’S RICKY COLLARD: “THE COROLLA IS A PROVEN RACE-WINNING PACKAGE”
Ricky, you’re no stranger to the BTCC. How does it feel to be racing in it?
I’ve been knocking around the BTCC paddock since I was just three years old, standing at the side of the track watching my dad compete against the likes of Jason Plato, Colin Turkington and Gordon Shedden – so as a series, it has huge personal appeal to me and I’ve made no secret recently of my desire to return. It definitely feels like I have some unfinished business after dipping my toe into the water at the end of 2018, and with my dad no longer racing, it’s almost like I’m now picking up the reins and carrying on the family legacy.
Before the BTCC, what were you competing in?
Following a comparatively quiet past couple of years, I was actually planning to stop racing at the end of 2022 to move to Australia – I had my visa organised and everything! While I still had some good options in GTs, my interest was waning – but this opportunity has really reignited the spark and I intend to grab it with both hands, fully embrace it and enjoy it. I haven’t done a complete season of racing in the UK since my days in British F3, so I’m massively excited for this – really buzzing!
What do you think of the Toyota Corolla?
Last week’s test at Donington was the first time I’d ever driven a front-wheel-drive race car, and while we’re clearly not yet where we want to be, my lap times showed that I already feel pretty comfortable in the Toyota. The Corolla is a proven race-winning package, and everybody in the team is doing all they can to help me to get quickly up to speed. I’m getting faster with every lap, and that progression is only going to continue.
How quickly have you bedded into the team?
As a former racing driver himself, Christian [Dick] can properly relate to the feedback I’m providing, and Rory [Butcher] has been really helpful too. We had a good relationship even beforehand, and I honestly couldn’t ask for a better team-mate. He has a lot of experience that I can draw upon and learn from, and by working closely together, the aim is to drive the whole team forward.
What are your expectations for the year?
There’s a lot of support and love for Toyota among BTCC fans, and I can’t wait to meet all the guys and girls at Toyota UK and hopefully do them proud. It’s funny – the only type of car I’ve raced that I haven’t won in is a touring car, so I’m pretty keen to put that statistic to bed and I’ll have 30 chances this year to do so. Despite effectively being a rookie, I’ll be disappointed if I don’t achieve that, and I’m targeting podiums at the very least. I’m certainly going to give this my absolute best shot!