WET CONDITIONS DO LITTLE TO DAMPEN THE LACETTI'S FORM AT DONINGTON Having extended the deal for Mat Jackson to partner Jason Plato under the Racing Silverline banner, the team arrived at the circuit with optimism and confidence in one of ...
WET CONDITIONS DO LITTLE TO DAMPEN THE LACETTI'S FORM AT DONINGTON
Having extended the deal for Mat Jackson to partner Jason Plato under the Racing Silverline banner, the team arrived at the circuit with optimism and confidence in one of the BTCC's most competitive of driver pairings. Despite challenging weather conditions, both drivers delivered strong results in the Chevrolet-Lacetti's, finishing every race in the points.
It was once again unchartered territory for the team, having no previous history of running the Lacetti's on Dunlop's wet tyres at Donington but the team used the practice sessions to test car setup in order to get the best out of the car for qualifying.
Both drivers reported some understeer, which is a characteristic trait of front-wheel drive cars, and struggled for grip in the wet, but as the weekend progressed, the lap times fell. Jason qualified P4 and Mat P10 following the disqualification of VXR's Giovanardi from pole.
On a wet track, with more rain forecast, race one got underway. From 4th on the grid Jason had some clutch slip at the start, dropping to 7th on the first lap. In the sister Lacetti, Mat made a great start, moving upto P9 on the first lap and threatening the pack ahead. An incident on lap 7 saw Jelley leave the track and suffer heavy contact with the barrier, resulting in a brief stint with the safety car. Jason put in some good laps, fighting with the VXRs and Airwaves BMW, and by lap eight had moved up to 6th. An excursion off track put Mat back down in 17th, but he continued to claw his way through the field. Some great wheel-to-wheel racing followed between Jason and Turkington, and with Collard and Vaulkhard caught in their own battle, Jason was able to close the gap and tussle with Tempus' Vaulkhard. By lap 11 there was heavy rainfall, making visibility tough. Both Jason and Mat reported problems with set up being too stiff and a lack of grip. Jason took 7th and Mat an impressive 10th having wrestled his way through from 17th.
The second race started on a drying track. Mat made a great start, claiming three places from the line. A brief stint with the safety car did nothing to deter the Racing Silverline drivers, both showing great race pace. A lap six dive from Jason put him ahead of teammate Mat, with some close nose-to-tail driving into McLeans. By lap 13, Jason had moved into 5th, whilst a defending Mat ran wide and conceded a place to Turkington. Two laps later, Jason was running in 4th and Mat in 6th having passed Adam.
Having both put in fighting laps to the chequered flag, Jason and Mat would remain in 4th and 6th respectively.
Following the reverse grid draw, Mat would start 5th on the grid and Jason 7th for race three, again with rain falling. Both drivers made solid starts and Jason gained 3rd from Vaulkhard. As the race unfolded, both Mat and Jason put in some great laps in tricky conditions, dicing for position with Giovanardi and Turkington. By lap ten Mat had closed in on Jason and over the next few would race nose-to-tail with his teammate, keeping the pressure on whilst defending from Turkington. In the closing stages, contact between Vaulkhard and Giovanardi promoted Jason to P3, narrowly avoiding trouble himself. Mat fell victim to Vaulkhard's clash, running wide to avoid collision and dropping down to 5th, but he managed to work his way back up to 4th, staying right on Jason's tail.
Team Manager, Paul Field, summarised: "It's been another exceptionally busy event for us. With weather conditions changing so rapidly, it meant we went from full wet to dry car setup, which isn't a quick task.
Both drivers experienced understeer and a lack of grip and it's the first time the car has run on wet tyre Dunlops, so this is something we need to work on. But given all of this, I think we can be pleased with the results. Of course we are here to win races ultimately, but finishing every race in the points is a great achievement, especially having seen how treacherous the track was in the wet.
We know we have good race pace and a very skilful driver line-up so we look forward to the next round at Oulton Park and aim to build on our points."
The next round of the BTCC will be held at Oulton Park on Sunday May 31st.