Airwaves Racing stormed back onto the podium during a wet and wild round 8 of the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Rockingham circuit this weekend, (14/15 September) with Mat Jackson adding a second place podium and two top four finishes to its championship points tally.
Following a non-eventful qualifying session on Saturday; all three Airwaves drivers had a tall task ahead of them for the first of Sunday’s races. Mat Jackson led the Airwaves trio starting his #7 Focus mid-pack from P12 with team-mates Tom Onslow-Cole and Aron Smith in P17 and P18 respectively.
Mat showed blistering pace following the early safety car appearance with the #7 Focus ST leading the lap times for the majority of the remaining laps - collecting an albeit short-lived fastest lap time along the way. After taking full advantage of the restart to close in on the race leaders, Mat picked his way past both MG’s of Tordoff and Plato before hunting down BTCC champion Shedden to steal P2 in lap 14.
For a while it looked as if a race win might be on the cards for Mat as he continued to close in on race leader Jordan for the closing laps – but despite the #7 Mountune-powered Ford Focus ST being over a second faster than the Pirtek Honda, there weren’t enough laps left to take the lead and Mat settled for a strong P2 finish – his second of the season. Aron had a troubled opening race with his #8 Focus ST struggling with handling in difficult greasy racing conditions and managed to muster up a four place gain, ending the race in P13.
With 36kg of ballast on board, Mat delivered another impeccable drive in the #7 NGTC during race two. After being passed by Shedden and Turkington in the opening laps, the Airwaves man defended his position well from the charge of the trailing pack to bring his Focus across the line in P4. Bouncing back from a troubled opening race, Airwaves Racing debutant Onslow-Cole put in a superb performance during what was only his second run in the #6 Focus ST.
Despite running on base boost, Tom showed a glimpse of things to come as he charged through the field from P22 to end in a solid P9. Frustratingly for Aron, a slow puncture picked up early in the race hindered his progress and he did well to cross the line in P15.
Having narrowly missed out on the reverse grid draw; drying conditions for the final race of the day saw both Mat and Tom join the majority of the grid on take to track on soft tyres starting in P5 and P9. An early safety car deployment in the opening lap helped to calm the grid and the order stayed relatively unchanged during the early laps.
As Mat battled back hard from P6 at the restart to claim his second P4 of the day and third top four finish of the weekend; further back, Tom continued to get to grips with his new Airwaves Racing Focus. Spending much of the race in the top ten, Tom dropped back in the closing laps to end in P12.
Aron’s run of unfortunate luck continued into the final race of the day. Following early contact with Frank Wrathall’s Toyota in the opening laps; Aron’s progress was thwarted and as a result he ended the race disappointed in P14.
Following another successful weekend, the Airwaves Racing squad has now moved forward in the Championship standings and looks forward to a two week opportunity to re-group before the penultimate round of the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Silverstone on September 28/29.
Airwaves Racing Team Manager Oly Collins said: “Three top four finishes today was a good strong result and one which starts to pay back all of the team’s hard work.
“Mat drove outstandingly well all day; Tom was a great addition to the team and has done very well in his debut weekend with us. It was a real shame for Aron today as luck just wasn’t on his side. We’re now looking forward to seeing what Silverstone has in-store for us in two weeks.”
#7 Airwaves Racing driver Mat Jackson said: “A good weekend. Obviously qualifying wasn’t the best result that we had following the P3 in free practice two, which put us on the back foot ultimately. But we came through and that was the main thing.
“Overall I think we’ve turned a corner with the car. We’ve made progress, and to come here and have three results in the top four is fantastic for everybody who’s involved here at Airwaves Racing and it’s great to reward the hard work with some decent results.
“Looking forward going into Silverstone we’re in good shape. It’s a circuit that I love and we intend to go there and carry on from where we are now and improve. We’re bouncing back, we know where we’re heading and that is the main thing. We need to move forwards with the car and I think this weekend has proved off the back of Snetterton that we’ve found something in the car and I’m a lot more confident.”
#6 Airwaves Racing driver Tom Onslow-Cole said: “It’s been a really good introduction to the team and car to be honest, not quite the results we wanted this weekend, but actually I’m coming away thinking that I’m comfortable in the car. I really enjoyed being in the team and the pace is definitely in it.
“We’ve had glimpses of front running pace and Mat has really shown what the NGTC can do quite consistently this weekend so I think it’s all very positive and I’m excited about going on from here.”
#8 Airwaves Racing driver Aron Smith said: “A little bit of a difficult weekend for me. It was frustrating because in each of the races we picked up some form of accident damage so we never got to see the potential of my car.
“It was good to see Mat go so well because it shows that the car should be on the money come Silverstone, but disappointing for myself not to get a proper run at it and see what we could do - just one of those weekends of character building really.”