Airwaves Racing Increase Focus on Championship Challenge at Thruxton

Mat Jackson, Airwaves Racing Grid girl
Mat Jackson, Airwaves Racing Grid girl

Photo by: Pat Cranham

Airwaves Racing secured another solid points finish to aid their 2011 Championship Challenge at this weekend’s third round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton. The Hampshire track is well renowned for being one of the most punishing circuits on the calendar, and the team come away pleased with the Ford Focuses performance having bagged three top six finishes including another podium finish, putting Mat Jackson in second place for the Championship.

An uninspiring qualifying session didn’t go the way of the Airwaves Racing team as Mat Jackson, carrying 27kg of success ballast following his impressive win at Donington Park, was just pipped into 8th position by Jeff Smith on the chequered flag. Teammate Liam Griffin continued to develop his touring car experience with a solid 16th place on the starting grid for race 1.

A promising start by Jackson in race 1 saw him take on Jeff Smith and Jason Plato to work his way into 5th place, putting him hot the tail of Tom Chilton and picking up a point for fastest lap. Unfortunately, whilst defending against Plato’s Chevrolet on lap 4, Jackson conceded two spots dropping into 7th, however he regained 6th place after the demise of Plato. Liam Griffin battled well in the mid-pack picking up two places to finish in 14th place.

Race 2 started well as Mat Jackson took advantage of Tom Boardman’s Seat, despite taking a knock from James Nash, in the opening lap to steal 5th place. Jackson once again showcased his outstanding racing ability after keeping his Ford Focus on track following a huge sideways slide through Church corner during lap 3, and continued to defend well throughout whilst under increasing pressure and contact from Nash’s Vectra, managing to maintain his position to the chequered flag. In contrast, team-mate Liam Griffin experienced first hand the punishment that the renowned Club chicane can deliver as his tire weary Ford Focus lost grip coming through, pushing him sideways through the bales and narrowly missing the oncoming traffic. Griffin did well to get back out on track, finishing in 17th.

A reverse grid drawn by ex-Stig, Ben Collins, saw Jackson maintain his place in 5th position for race 3, the first of the Fords on the grid. Jackson got off to a blazing start off the line for race 3 flying past Alex MacDowall, Tom Chilton and Tom Boardman to slot straight into second place behind race leader Jason Plato, immediately challenging for the lead position and narrowly missing out on the opening lap. The deployment of the safety car in lap 6 following an incident involving Tom Chilton’s Ford Focus allowed the field to bunch up again and Jackson to close in on Plato’s lead, regrettably, he was unable to capitalise on the restart to steal the lead, but the Mountune NGTC powered Ford Focus performed well and remained untroubled in second place, securing the 4th visit to the podium for Jackson and Airwaves Racing so far this season.

Hertfordshire based Griffin, completed another uneventful race 3 and once again showed good pace and will be pleased to come away from the Hampshire circuit in one piece and with three successful races under his belt.

The weekend’s results leave Mat Jackson in second place in the overall Championship and leading the Independents standings with Airwaves Racing leading the Independent teams standings and in fifth position overall. A five-week break now awaits before the Championship picks up again at Cheshire’s Oulton Park on 4th & 5th June.

Airwaves Racing Team Principal David Bartrum said:
“A fantastic day for Airwaves Racing. I’m delighted that Mat Jackson delivered the 50th Birthday present I wanted the most with another visit to the podium! We came here to score points and that’s exactly what we did to keep our momentum going and our Championship challenge on track.”

Airwaves Racing Team Manager Oly Collins said:
“All in all, we’re quite satisfied with today’s results considering Thruxton was never going to suit our car this weekend. Mat produced a great start in the final race to match his previous two, which in turn produced the chance for him to secure another podium for this season and take home a nice hatful of points. “Liam has enjoyed his day racing at one of the toughest circuits on the BTCC calendar; he improved all weekend and has showed some good pace at times. Full credit to the Airwaves Racing who once again delivered in all areas all weekend.”

Airwaves Racing driver Mat Jackson said:
“An awesome result for the team, it’s great come away with a second place result and to pull some points in from the weekend. We knew that Thruxton was never going to suit our car and we had to salvage whatever result we could from this weekend. It’s still early days, but every point counts and it feels fantastic to be second place in Championship standings and leading the Independents going into Oulton Park.”

Airwaves Racing driver Liam Griffin said:
“A very successful weekend for me. I enjoyed it immensely. I consistently improved during the weekend and found some extra pace to put me up competing where I feel I should be. It’s a just case now of building confidence and getting into the mix of things which will come with experience. Oulton Park is my favourite track on the BTCC calendar so I’m looking forward to heading there next and hopefully building on this weekends improvements.”

-source: airwaves racing