Despite none of the expected rainfall, Donington Park provided all the drama you could wish for as Airwaves BMW gave it their all, taking home more points and silverware the team had hoped for. As the British Touring Car Championship reaches its...
Despite none of the expected rainfall, Donington Park provided all the drama you could wish for as Airwaves BMW gave it their all, taking home more points and silverware the team had hoped for. As the British Touring Car Championship reaches its climax with just one more race meeting to come at Brands Hatch, the title race is closer than ever- realistically Airwaves BMW can win the Independent titles.
We already knew that both Airwaves BMW drivers had to score points today, but, with Jackson starting from 11th and teammate Steven Kane in a lowly 21st, the odds were stacked against them for the day's first race.
Lights out and Kane instantly used the extra grip afforded to his rear wheel chariot to great effect. Storming through the back markers, he worked his way up eight spots to 13th on the very first lap thanks to a bold move into Redgate. Jackson meanwhile had a host of potential title winners ahead, all of whom just like him had to win. Cool, calm and unperturbed Jackson moved past MacDowall and Boardman to finish the first lap in 9th.
Back to Kane, who on lap five was involved in a tangle at Coppice Corner with Boardman and O'Neill. For once luck was on Kane's side as O'Neill span to a halt and Boardman sank in the rear view. Kane in eighth had ambitions, continuing to attack the cars ahead of him.
Lap 12 and further up the field Plato, desperate to claim his second BTCC title, gave Neal a nudge from behind; the contact threw the Honda out of synch, into the barriers and back across the track toward his Chevy. He was forced out of the race with a broken steering rack - what goes around, as they say.
Onslow-Cole, right in the middle of the carnage, also collected a barrier, but it was Jordan, steaming into the chicane that would suffer the most. With debris impeding his vision he ran straight in to the rear of Collard and irreversibly damaged his Pirtek Vectra. Overall the incident took out five of the leading seven cars. It appears miracles are not reserved for 34th Street!
Jackson somehow avoided the bloodbath, emerging through the rubble in 3rd much to his surprise and to the team's satisfaction. With the safety car deployed he had two further laps to cling on, and he stuck to the job at hand. A podium finish and 12 points were his reward, and they'll make all the difference to his title charge.
Kane, well behind the melee also avoided trouble and on the restart on lap 17 drove past the LPG Focus of Onslow-Cole to claim 6th. In one of the drives of his career and in front of a packed Donington Park grandstand he passed 15 cars.
Jackson started race two in third place, behind race winner Shedden and Ford's Tom Chilton; Kane impressively started from sixth. Again he made a solid start, passing the dragster of Tom Chilton into the first corner but try as he might the blue oval was just too fast down the straights, able to draw alongside and inevitably pass at will.
Kane, keen to take advantage of his excellent grid position pushed hard and tried to pass Chilton at every opportunity, but in doing so went in to Mcleans too hot and inadvertently left a gap, which was soon exploited by the Chevrolet of MacDowall. Desperate to make up the place, on the next lap the Airwaves BMW driver went in to the chicane three-abreast with Nash and Collard, but Nash was ultimately forced wide and over the gravel.
On the very last lap in was three fastest BMW's on track doing battle, and satisfyingly there could only be two winners in this duel- both covered in Airwaves, Moneyshop and Leyland livery! Jackson mirror-to-mirror with Collard got the better of the ex-Motorbase Performance driver and managed to get on to the right line; Kane cleverly saw what was coming and stuck onto the rear end of his teammate, leaving Collard with nowhere to go except the gravel trap - the result Kane pops in to take sixth place and eight points, Jackson anther stellar effort finished fifth, adding 10 more to his tally.
Race three, and a reverse grid put the Airwaves drivers in fourth (Kane) and fifth (Jackson). Jordan, who led the race for at least nine laps, was hotly pursued by Matt Neal and Rob Collard, Neal eventually forcing the Pirtek driver into a mistake and taking the lead as a result.
Kane try as he might could not catch the two leaders and clearly agitated knew he needed to do something about it. Tussling with Plato he quickly gained the upper hand, then lost positions as the drivers, now with Chilton in the mix, battled round Hollywood, through the Old Hairpin and past Starkeys Bridge.
Kane, composed and assured waited for an opportunity; with Plato and Jordan ahead he allowed the pair to go after each other, and was rewarded as Jordan and Plato ran wide - leaving more than enough room for him to steal third. Soon though Plato was back pressurising again and with the cars alongside the Chevy was in no mood for compromise, shoving Kane wide and onto the grass. It would be enough to steal third.
Jackson who started in fourth was going well, but on lap nine went too quickly into Coppice, and found himself alone on the grass. He resumed the race in tenth, but stuck in there to regain two further places, finishing in eighth. Although Neal won the race Kane's fourth and Jackson's eighth left the team in a respectable position and with a genuine role to play in the forthcoming title battle at Brands Hatch in three weeks time. Kane is just 18 points behind Onslow-Cole in the Independent Drivers championship with 223, Jackson is 17 points adrift of Kane in fourth.
Airwaves BMW Team driver Steven Kane said: "Generally a good weekend, after our qualifying it's actually a positive result. In the first race the car showed it had the pace as I came from 21st to 6th, I could even have nipped in to claim 4th if I hadn't been hit by Boardman. Race two wasn't quite so good for me, I was blocked by Chilton and that cost me time but race three was another solid result. The last thing I wanted to do was fall off at this stage of the season. In the last race my tyres didn't come on till lap 5, once they did I was quick but it was a little too late - all in all I'm happy, Brands suits the BMW and we were quick on the media day so we shall see how it goes."
Airwaves BMW Team driver Mat Jackson said: "I'm chuffed and I think today was a real positive. Shame about the last race, that was my fault as I took the kerb too hard, then bounced off Jordan and ended up in the gravel. Other than that the car was quick and we had the pace again. Qualifying was frustrating for me and we still need more pace on the Saturday but I'm confident going into Brands Hatch. It's hard on tyres, especially on the front wheel drive cars so we have a good chance of doing well."
Airwaves BMW Team Manager Oliver Collins said: "It was good all in all. Both cars performed well and the team worked tremendously to kick up a gear after our troubled Saturday. Brands is our home track and that's where we hope to clinch the Independent title, so on reflection its been a positive weekend for all of us."
-source: airwaves bmw