Croft: Racing Silverline weekend summary

THREE POINTS SCORING FINISHES FOR RACING SILVERLINE The Racing Silverline Chevrolet-Lacetti's showcased their pace early on in the weekend, with both cars finishing in the top five during the second free practice session . Having ...

THREE POINTS SCORING FINISHES FOR RACING SILVERLINE

The Racing Silverline Chevrolet-Lacetti's showcased their pace early on in the weekend, with both cars finishing in the top five during the second free practice session .

Having initially used the first practice session for testing, the drivers focused on fine turning car setup for qualifying trim during the second practice session. In favourable conditions and on a high speed, technical track, the team were aiming to dominate the top five. Despite the tiring heat and an unwell Mat suffering with suspected food poisoning, the Racing Silverline team fared well as Jason immediately set a P1-worthy pace on old tyres. Mat responded with a quick time, putting him P3. Both drivers had already recorded the fastest speed through the speed trap at 120.1mph.

Going into the qualifying, both Jason and Mat planned three runs each on a new set of tyres. After his first run, Jason went P1 but was soon in competition with teammate Mat, as he jumped to the top of the timesheets.

Turkington would eventually claim pole, where he remained unchallenged until the end of the session. Like many, both Jason and Mat suffered with traffic and found it difficult to get good, clear laps, much to their frustration. Jason qualified P2 with a best time of 1:26.202, just 0.196s off pole-sitter Turkington. Mat finished the session P5, 0.198s adrift of his team mate, which he was pleased with considering how unwell he was feeling in the uncomfortable heat.

Race 1 got underway in similar conditions to Saturday's sessions, hot and dry, which proved challenging for many, including championship rivals VXR. As the lights went out, Jason struggled with too much wheel spin, allowing the second RAC BMW of Jelley through. Mat made a solid start, promoting himself to 4th into the first corner. From here the race was pretty much set, with Turkington's BMW stealing the show having led from start to finish with team mate Jelley close behind. Jason was the quickest of the front-wheel cars, having driven a relatively uneventful race to claim a podium scoring 3rd place finish and added 10 points to his tally.

Still suffering, despite being given the all clear to race in the morning, a rare mistake over the early laps saw Mat run wide at Chicane having dropped a wheel onto the grass. Contact with the barrier resulted in Mat's DNF and as his condition worsened, the decision was taken to miss the remaining two races - a huge disappointment for the team in what would have been a very strong weekend for Mat and his number 2 Chevrolet-Lacetti.

With much cooler temperatures, an overcast sky and a slight chance of rain, the second race looked set to be close. Starting from 3rd on the grid, Jason was passed by the Airwaves BMW of Collard into the first corner and soon found himself defending from VXR's Giovanardi.

As the race developed, Jason piled the pressure on Collard, with the Lacetti working better under braking and displaying better traction than Collard's rear-wheel drive BMW. On a technically challenging circuit, it was only a matter of time before Jason would make a calculated move on Collard, which came on lap 10. Attacking into Tower, Jason charged confidently past Collard with nail-biting door-to-door racing into the Esses.

Once past, Jason pulled out a good gap to secure his second podium finish of the weekend, again netting 10 points and leaping ahead of Giovanardi in the overall championship to 3rd place with 107 points - 14 points off Matt Neal in 2nd.

Heavy showers fell just before the start of the third race, creating pockets of standing water and treacherous conditions for the BTCC pack. As more rain fell, the drivers complained of very poor visibility and several fell victim to aquaplaning, resulting in lengthy safety car periods.

Despite several calls from drivers for the race to be delayed, the race went on and in very challenging conditions, Jason drove a steady race to finish 5th, earning another 6 points. With Giovanardi winning race 3, Jason now moves back to 4th in the overall championship standings, but with three points-scoring finishes, has now closed the gap to the VXR's, sitting 7 points behind third-placed Giovanardi and 11 points behind second- placed Neal. Mat currently sits in 11th with 41 points.

In the Independents category, Jason is in 2nd place with 138 points, 26 points adrift of the leader, Turkington. Mat is 8th on 51 points, and will be looking to the next round at Snetterton in six weeks' time to return to his race winning ways.

Reviewing the first two races, Jason commented: "Race 1 was exactly what we expected. The two RAC BMW's were always going to get into the corner first, so 3rd was the target, which we managed. We struggled relative to them in terms of our pace, although we were quicker than the rest of the front-wheel cars. Third was the best we could have done, so we're pleased with that. Its good points, and we've clawed points back on everybody except Turkington.

For race 2, the temperatures came down which helped us for sure. The guys made some small changes to the car, which gave better balance. We knew Collard would get past so 4th was the target going into the race.

I managed to find my way past Collard at Tower with a bit of a brave move and was then off into the distance. We actually closed in on the BMWs towards the end of the race, but to be honest I think they were cruising.

But more points, we're improving all the time so it's been a great weekend for the team."

The next race is at Snetterton on 1st & 2nd August.

-credit: rml

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