Airwaves Racing saw its hard work rewarded during round 3 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship this weekend (May 4/5) with the Mountune-powered Ford Focus ST’s securing five top ten finishes at their debut Thruxton appearance.
The weekend’s three races also proved to be the key to the Airwaves Racing team overcoming the stability issues that had hindered its performance during the opening rounds. The first of Sunday’s races progressed well for the Airwaves drivers; as both Mat Jackson and Aron Smith picked their way through the mid-field of cars to work their way up into P8 and P10 for the closing laps, before race leader Jordan suffered a puncture on the final lap – promoting the Airwaves pair to P7 and P9.
Race two was a busy affair with Aron Smith spinning the #8 Focus on the opening lap at the high speed ‘Church’ corner, causing the Irishman to fall back into last position. The introduction of the safety car closed the field back up and allowed Aron mount his recovery drive and go on to claim a tenth place finish.
His Airwaves team-mate Mat Jackson looked to be on for a top five finish before making an uncharacteristic error at the same spot as Smith following the safety car restart, spinning into the in-field and relegating the #7 Focus to P25. With no further safety car interruptions, Mat fought his way back up to end the race in P15, redeeming his earlier mistake with a sterling drive.
The final race of the day rewarded the Airwaves Racing team’s hard work with two solid performances from both Jackson and Smith – with Aron securing fifth and Mat crossing the line in seventh to deliver a much welcomed point’s haul for the championship challenge.
Addison Lee Motorbase team-mate Liam Griffin had a mixed weekend in the S2000 Focus. After winning the Jack Sears Trophy class in the weekend’s opening race, the Addison Lee Motorbase driver’s title campaign was then hampered by a mechanical fault in race two, before going on to sustain steering damage whilst challenging for position in the final race of the day, resulting in two DNF’s for the Addison Lee boss.
Thruxton’s results leave the Airwaves Racing team in fourth position for the overall Championship, with Aron Smith in tenth and Mat Jackson in eleventh in the driver standings. The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship now takes a five week break before the Airwaves Racing team are back in action at Oulton Park on June 8/9.
Motorbase Performance Team Manager Oly Collins: “That’s a much better performance to go home with. “I appreciate the results aren’t quite what we hoped for but the performances of the cars are definitely a step in the right direction!
“After just 30 minutes testing at this circuit on the unique Thruxton tyre, we went into qualifying further away from where we would have liked but the progress we made today was very positive. We now have a five week break to make sure we can benefit from this and move forward at Oulton Park.”
Airwaves Racing driver Mat Jackson: “All in all I think we had a positive race day. Obviously in race 1 we went forward from where we qualified which was a huge improvement in the chassis.
“The nature of Thruxton is high speed and we had quite a bit of instability in the rear and unfortunately when we were running in fifth in race 2 the rear end stepped out at Church which meant we dropped back – which is a shame as I think we would have been on for a good result.
We made a few changes for race 3, came through the field and we just got onto the back of the quick boys but it was then really stale mate at the front, but we managed to limp home on the tyres to get a solid result.
“We’re moving forward and we’re moving forward fast. To come here to Thruxton where we need a stable car and be able to challenge the guys at the front - it’s a massive positive.
Looking forward to Oulton Park; we’ve got a bit of a break now to get ourselves sorted and reflect on what we’ve done so far.
With the data we have now we can improve and make steps forward - we know where we’ve got to strengthen up and I’m a lot happier with where we are with the car; I think we can win some races.”
Airwaves Racing driver Aron Smith: “I said that top six would have been a result so to get top five is brilliant! “Yesterday didn’t go great because we arrived here with a blank canvas so we didn’t really know where to be going when all the other cars got to start from where we finished – with car being very competitive.
“It says a lot about the guys that they can make up a year of experience that the other teams have in the space of a weekend which is what we accomplished here.
You have to remember it’s the first time on these tyres around here so it’s a different beast altogether, but they got the car to a place where it was really strong in race 3 and now we know exactly what the problem has been and how we can improve it; so this weekend was a big step forward for development.
“We have a good old gap now to go over everything with a fine toothed comb. Hopefully we’ll get a spot of testing in and see where we can get to now we’re starting to get our heads around this.
I would like to say that we now have a car that’s capable of always being in the top five; now that we know that it’s capable of being there, hopefully we can make some tweaks and get amongst it for the rest of the season.”
Addison Lee Motorbase driver Liam Griffin: “The Jack Sears Trophy seems to be a Championship of attrition – whereas the last man standing will probably win it!
“We had the car set up really well and it was racing well – with some good, fun racing between us all, but unfortunately with the issues we had I didn’t get the chance to challenge as I would have liked this weekend.”