Home track glory for Airwaves Racing
A turn of fortune for the Airwaves Racing team delivered the perfect blend of sunshine and success as a return to form at local track Brands Hatch got their Championship Challenge back on track with two podiums and a top ten finish for lead driver Mat Jackson.
Heading into the penultimate round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship on the fast and furious Brands Hatch GP circuit, the Motorbase-run team had a tough task ahead of them to keep their championship hopes alive. Thankfully there was so sign of the run of bad luck that has haunted the Wrotham-based team of late, and a strong performance across all three races puts them firmly back in contention for the title for the season finale at Silverstone in two weeks’ time.
With Pirtek’s Andy Jordan’s failure to make the start of the first of Sunday’s races, Jackson had one less car to manoeuvre around off the start line and managed to jump straight up into fifth position from seventh after a blistering start. He continued to challenge for places and battled with Independent rival James Nash for a good few laps before a puncture-stricken Matt Neal, slowed to a crawl coming into Dingle Dell, caused the Airwaves Racing and Triple Eight drivers to take evasive action either side of the Honda, with Jackson coming out on top to steal into third place. After closing down on Alex MacDowall in the finishing laps, a last minute lunge paid off, bringing his number seven Ford Focus ST over the line in second place for a well-deserved podium.
Further back, team-mate Michael Caine suffered after getting his boot caught up in the pedals of his car and dropped back into twenty second place, a gallant effort by the BTCC rookie however saw Caine work his way up through the field to finish in twelfth. Likewise team-mate Liam Griffin battled well in the mid-field, making up an impressive eight places to bring his Focus over the line in sixteenth.
Another solid second race for Jackson and the Airwaves Racing team delivered their second podium of the day as The Ford Focus ST managed to hold off fellow Ford rival Tom Onslow-Cole whilst under mounting pressure for the majority of the seventeen laps, holding his starting position to claim his second visit of the day to the winner’s podium and pick up some vital additional points for the team. Similarly, Jackson’s Airwaves Racing team-mates Caine and Griffin both put in impressive performances, showing encouraging pace to finish in twelfth and nineteenth places respectively.
The reverse grid draw for the final race of the day didn’t go the way of the Airwaves Racing team as Jackson was drawn to start from ninth place on the grid – with his Honda Championship challengers and Independent rival James Nash all up ahead. However, Jackson once again produced a flawless start, despite being cut up by Onslow-Cole off the line, chased down the competition hard and managed to stay out of trouble to bring his Mountune-powered Focus home in a respectable fifth place finish to further assistance his and the team’s standings.
Likewise both Caine and Griffin managed to avoid much of the midfield melee in what was quite a drama filled final race of the day. Benefitted in part to a number of early retirements during the race, Newmarket-based Caine managed a fifteenth spot finish to team-mate Griffin’s eighteenth - with all three Airwaves car completing the day’s three races in one piece!
This weekend’s results mean that both Mat Jackson and Airwaves Racing have revitalised their Championship positions to battle it out for the overall and Independent titles as they head to the season finale at Silverstone in two weeks’ time on October 16th.
Airwaves Racing Team Manager Oly Collins said:
“What a relief! After the last two races weekends we almost forgot what it felt like to get on the podium. Mat was outstanding in all three races to get a great point’s haul and keep us within a shout of the Championship going into the final.
“The team once again performed brilliantly and all three drivers finished all three races with barely a scratch – come to think of it, was this really a British Touring Car weekend?!”
Airwaves Racing driver Mat Jackson said:
“It was a good weekend for the team and puts us back in the challenge for the Championship, where we deserve to be. If I’m honest, I still feel frustrated. The car has been brilliant again all weekend as it has been all year but I just can’t help to look back at Rockingham and Knockhill and think ‘what if’.
“It’s great that we’re back in the title fight for Silverstone and I’m totally focussed on the overall Championship, it’s still the one I want to win to the point where if it came down to it, I would race for the win even if it meant jeopardising the Independent title – I’ll never settle for second best, I only ever race to win.”
Airwaves Racing driver Liam Griffin said:
“This was my best weekend yet. I really felt like a racing driver this week and things just clicked into place for me. I changed my driving technique and took a more relaxed approach and luckily it paid off with three really good consistent races and great lap times. I’m going to Silverstone on a high now and can’t wait to get back out in the car.”
Airwaves Racing driver Michael Caine said:
“It was great to be a part of it again this weekend with a little knowledge of how it all works and felt so good to be in Motorbase’s back yard with all their sponsors and guests there with us able to feel part of it.
“I somehow managed to get my boots tangled up in the pedals during race one, which has never happened to me before, but we got a really good result to get back to twelfth. The Airwaves boys gave me a fantastic car once again, totally on the money with the pace. There was a real buzz about the whole team this weekend after three solid results and it was the perfect feel good weekend we all needed ahead of the final at Silverstone.”