Airwaves Racing ‘Kick Up A Gear’ with promising title challenge.
Airwaves Racing’s 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship title campaign got off to a promising start at their home circuit, Brands Hatch, with Mat Jackson securing two strong podiums and leaving the Kent track sitting pretty in second place overall in the Championship standings.
The Wrotham-based Motorbase run team showed that the switch over to the Mountune NGTC engined Focus was a prudent move and are pleased with the car’s performance over the weekend.
The Airwaves duo of Mat Jackson and Liam Griffin had mixed results from the three races, with Jackson managing fourth, third and second place finishes respectively. Jackson got off to a great start in race one which saw him move from sixth on the grid to benefit from an off by race leader Matt Neal before taking on Andrew Jordan at clearways to move up into fifth. Jackson then continued to move up the order passing the Chevrolet of Alex MacDowall to steal fourth and battled hard to the chequered flag.
Race two started well for Jackson who, after a brave move around the outside of James Nash at Paddock Hill Bend, progressed into second place before the safety car was deployed on lap two. Despite putting up a valiant defence for the majority of the race under constant pressure from Gordon Sheddon’s Honda, Jackson conceded a place to the Scotsman at Surtees, with the Airwaves Racing driver finishing a credible third, the first podium of 2011 for the team.
The final race of the day saw the reverse grid place Jackson fifth on the grid. After another blistering start, the Warwickshire-based driver collided with 888’s James Nash coming into Paddock Hill bend, coming off the better of the two cars. With Championship leader Jason Plato hot on his heels, Jackson eased his way past Paul O’Neill on lap five at Druids to move up into third place before benefiting from Andrew Jordan’s forced pit stop with a puncture, seeing him move through the ranks into second position. Jackson battled hard throughout, catching race leader Matt Neal and finishing a mere two-tenths of a second behind the Team Dynamics driver.
In contrast, his team-mate, Liam Griffin’s, Championship debut didn’t go quite according to plan after contact with WSR’s Rob Collard on the formation lap saw him having to retire from race one with damaged front suspension. After starting from the back of the grid in race two, Griffin raced hard to get up into 15th position before a puncture forced a visit to the pits and an 18th place finish. An uneventful race three showed that Griffin has the pace to challenge for points in the new Ford with his best lap time only six tenths away from that of his Airwaves Racing comrade, and served well to develop his BTCC race craft experience.
David Bartrum Motorbase Performance Team Principal
He said: “It’s been a very successful weekend. I think we are eight points behind Jason Plato in the championship in second place so we are quite pleased with that. We were hoping for Liam to have settled down in the car in a bit more but it is quite a learning curve in British Touring Cars. I think he needs a bit more time to settle in but I think he will surprise a few people this season and will get faster and faster.
“Mat Jackson is exactly where we thought he would be and we have had three very good results from him. We had a fourth, a third and a second but not the elusive win. We had two Independent wins with some good results against the works teams, which is great. But from the point of view of the Championship, which is what we are here for, if we bank points like this at every round we have a good chance at the title. It is the first leg of a ten round Championship, we are in a very nice position good position and it can only get better.”
“Our Porsche Carrera Cup campaign did not get off to the start we were hoping for and we have a really hard weekend. There are a number of shortfalls that we need to work on and seriously up our game. We’ll be back in the workshop tomorrow for a hard look over the cars to see where we need to make changes and make sure that we’re prepared for Donington.”
Oly Collins Team Manager
“We’re really satisfied with the weekend with Mat [Jackson] sitting in second place in the Championship and with how reliable the cars were all weekend which is a credit to Airwaves Racing/Motorbase and all the hard work the crew have put in over the past few months.
“Liam had a tough start but progressed well throughout the day to be putting in very respectable times in Race three. Mat Jackson drove a near perfect weekend, with some very clean driving and a good points haul which will hopefully help us challenge for the outright Championship this year.”
Airwaves Racing driver Mat Jackson
“To go away with two podiums and a fourth is a fantastic result and a good result for everyone in the team. It’s great for David Bartrum, all the boys, Airwaves, The Money Shop, Redstone and Leyland Paints. It’s great to have a start like this but there is a long way to go. We have started well and we can only get better. It’s been tough a time learning the new car. We have made some great changes and it’s building up the profile of the car well. This weekend has put us in a great position.”
Airwaves Racing driver Liam Griffin
“I was expecting a baptism of fire but it wasn’t quite in the format I was hoping. It was bit self-induced unfortunately but I think I will put that down to experience. It’s a tough old school and once you drop off the pack it hard to keep up. I’m happy with my pace but I need to get a hang of a few things. This is brand new for me and some of these boys have been doing it for 20 years or so. I think Donington Park will suit me a bit better.”