RACING SILVERLINE CLOSE IN ON THE CHAMPIONSHIP AT ROCKINGHAM
Some tantalising, close wheel-to-wheel racing was the order of the day for the Racing Silverline team in today's three HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship races at Rockingham circuit.
As the lights went out for race one, the familiar sight of the quick starting Airwaves BMWs menaced Jason for the lead from the first turn and this time it was young Scotsman, Jonny Adam pouncing off the line, although team mate Rob Collard and RAC's Stephen Jelley weren't far behind to make it a BMW lockout during the early laps.
A good start from Jason kept him in touch with the BMW barrier and despite dropping back through the pack, Racing Silverline team mate, Mat Jackson wasn't far behind. An incident involving VXR's Matt Neal, and the unlucky Johnny Herbert brought the safety car out on the first lap, which bunched the pack before its departure on lap 3. Taking full advantage, Jason was on the power and Collard soon found himself the target in a double- Lacetti assault. A small mistake from the BMW driver was enough for him to run wide and allow both Mat and Jason to pass, releasing Jason to pile the pressure on race leader, Stephen Jelley.
Coming under increasing pressure from his team mate, Jason showed his consistently quick pace, setting the fastest time on lap 7 and taking a vital bonus point for doing so. Not to be outshone, Mat responded, edging closer to the no. 3 Lacetti in front and just as his team mate had done the lap before, Mat passed Collard. Jason took the flag in second place, with Mat finishing close behind in 3rd, earning his seventh podium in a row with the Racing Silverline team.
Starting from 2nd and 3rd on the grid respectively for the second race, the team were hopeful of another strong outing as Jason seemed to have the measure on championship rivals, Colin Turkington and Fabrizio Giovanardi.
A great start from Mat in race two enabled him to pass his slower starting team-mate, as Jason came under pressure from Adam. With Giovanardi behind in 5th and Turkington seemingly struggling back in 6th, Jason had it all to play for as he kept himself in contention for the title fight. A short stint with the safety car following John George's early retirement in the gravel trap again bunched the pack and by the eighth lap, both Mat and Jason had not only closed in on Jelley, but had passed him and focused on building a comfortable gap to now third- placed man, Giovanardi.
Reporting understeer over the final few laps, Mat struggled a little more for pace and by lap 16, Jason made his pass in a close, clean battle. Once again it was a joint champagne celebration for the Racing Silverline duo on the podium.
Speaking to BTCC.net about his late move on Mat and race two victory, Jason said, "I got a great exit. I'd been stronger out of the last corner all weekend, so I managed to make a lunge past Mat. It's a really great result for the team and very satisfying for me."
And on the question of whether team tactics came into play, Jason adds, "We're racing - there are no team orders, this isn't a works team. There's just one rule, and that is that we don't make contact or attempt any silly moves. And we both respect that."
The final race of the day didn't go to plan for the Racing Silverline team and despite both Jason and Mat putting in a strong performance, the mid pack late race chaos hampered their chances of more podium celebrations.
Having successfully made a daring move on Giovanardi, in which two of Mat's wheels were on the grass as they raced parallel, huge disappointment followed for the team as Giovanardi made contact with the back of Mat, pushing him wide and off the track. Mat managed to rejoin, but right at the back of the field in 19th place with it all to do.
Unfazed and with immeasurable determination, Mat began his charge from the back and by the 15th lap had picked his way into an impressive points scoring 6th position, proving the old adage that you have to be in it to win it. Mat took the chequered flag in a very commendable 5th place.
Jason had a similar theme for his third and final race. Having spent much of the early laps around 7th position, Jason made two more unchallenged advances on Giovanardi and RML entrant, James Nash and with 3rd placed-man, Tom Chilton backing up the pack, the team's hopes for a podium were high. Sensing an opportunity to follow Turkington through as the RAC car dived past Chilton, Jason's quick, calculated move enabled him to outbid Chilton for 4th position.
A late lap tangle between current championship leader, Turkington and Jason caused mid track chaos and as the two slipped further down the pack as they tried to recover, Nash clipped Jason, forcing the latter to run wide off track with damage causing early retirement. Pitting to replace a deflated tyre, Jason rejoined the track however damage to the steering arm dashed any plans of a top three finish. Jason went on to finish out of place in 12th position.
Speaking after the third race, Jason commented, "I was going really well in the first two races and it was looking good at the start of the third. But then it was getting all quite hectic at the front, although I then managed to get the run on Colin. But we collided and that was my race done. The gap was there, I had a go, but that was that. That's racing. But to summarise, it was a good weekend for us, just a little disappointing with how race three ended."
And on the final race of the season in two weeks, Jason predicts, "Brands Hatch will be very interesting. The Silverline Chevrolets should be rocket ships round there."
Jason maintains third in the championship with 221 points, 28 points off championship leader, Turkington and 15 shy of 2nd placed, Giovanardi. In the sister Lacetti, Mat has now promoted himself up to 4th in the championship on 165 points.
The season finale takes place at Brands Hatch on the 3rd & 4th October 2009.