It was another tough weekend for Airwaves Racing at Donington Park during round 2 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship as the Kent-based team struggled to find the pace and set up to get its 2013 championship challenge off the ground.
With a raft of places to make up from the middle of the grid, both Airwaves Racing drivers chose to run with the new Dunlop soft tyre for Sunday’s opening race. Despite a strong start from Jackson in the opening laps that saw the 31 year old move up into P10, he struggled to find the pace on the soft tyre needed to move further up the field and dropped back in the closing laps to finish in P12. His Airwaves team-mate Smith fared better in the newest Focus NGTC putting in a valiant effort, making up five places to cross the line in P11.
Race two delivered healthier results for Airwaves Racing with both drivers managing to find a more responsive set up on the cars. Irishman Smith battled hard with the eBay motors BMW’s managing to pass both Collard and then Turkington in the closing laps to take P8. Jackson continued to be plagued with set-up and mechanical issues on the #7 Focus ST and despite his best efforts to push forward – the Airwaves man could only muster a P13 finish.
The final race reverse grid looked to offer the change in fortune that the Airwaves Racing team needed as the number 10 draw pitted Aron Smith on the second row, starting in P3. Smith got off to strong start, clinching second place as he challenged Onslow-Cole into Craner Curves. He wasn’t able to maintain the position to the end however as, despite his determination, the soft tyre option run by the following pack came into play and the young Irishman was gradually picked off in the descending laps, holding on well to finish in P7.
Further back Jackson produced a near flawless drive in the final race of the day with a much revised set up and pulled off a miraculous evasive move to avoid Newsham’s out of control Toyota as it careered across the track in the opening laps. Jackson pushed his Focus ST to the limit as he chased down Plato in the closing minutes, even managing to run alongside the two time champion despite the MG’s advantage on the soft tyre. Despite coming tantalisingly close to clinching the extra spot, Jackson’s sterling efforts were rewarded with a P9 finish.
Addison Lee Motorbase team-mate Liam Griffin had a torrid weekend with his S2000 struggling with an engine fault that dogged the squad during Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s final two races with the Addison Lee boss managing only to complete the weekend’s opening race in P20.
The Motorbase-run squads now have a two week break to iron out the issues from this weekend before the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship get underway again at Thruxton on May 4/5.
Motorbase Performance Team Manager Oly Collins said:
“Unfortunately we’ve suffered another bad weekend. We thought we were making some progress after testing last week, only to go backwards on Saturday after a promising start in free practice one.
“On the plus side we found a much better set up for Mat in race three and Aron’s race two set up also proved to be going in the right direction. We’ve got more information to work with in the next week or so to convert it all into results at Thruxton.”
Airwaves Racing driver Mat Jackson said:
“What can I say? Up until race three we really struggled finding a balance in the car, everything we tried sent us the wrong way. However, we threw a totally different set up at the car for the last race and it really showed some promise. If you had told me that Jason (Plato) would have been holding me up in race three I would have laughed, we definitely had the legs on him but just couldn’t quite get past.
“We’ve at least got a direction to go in now for Thruxton. Hopefully we can get it going well there, it’s certainly not for the lack of trying in the team.”
Airwaves Racing driver Aron Smith said:
“Well that was an interesting weekend! It was pretty tough, but we had great pace in free practice one and then developed a fault in the car. We fixed that for today and race two went really well. We made a small change to the car for the final race of the day which unfortunately had a negative effect.”
“We’ll be back raring to go at Thruxton and we’ve learnt a lot more about the car this weekend.”
Addison Lee Motorbase driver Liam Griffin said:
“After a solid first race we had the ideal opportunity in races two and three to have picked up the win, especially with my two main rivals not finishing; it’s just so frustrating.
“We had the same fuel starvation fault today (Sunday) that we had in qualifying yesterday - we changed everything and it worked for race 1, then failed in race 2 so we changed it all again and it let us down again in race 3 – so this weekend really does feel like a lost opportunity.”