By: Pat Cranham, BTCC Correspondent
Third race specialist Mat Jackson has taken his 3rd third race win of the season at Croft to head into the summer break trailing Matt Neal by just 9 points. Finishing in a superb second was Nick Foster for WSR with his team mate Rob Collard taking third.
Foster led away, however it wasn’t long until Jackson got past after getting a better exit off the chicane and passed him around the outside, heading into the next corner. Yet Foster didn’t fade away as expected and stayed with Jackson and continued not to slow up Collard. Eventually on lap 11 Foster did let Collard past to see if he could get past Jackson to take the win.
Jackson was quickest through the fast sectors 1 and 2, however Collard was quickest through sector 3, with the more twisty sections including the final hairpin, which was his best place to get past and he was shaping up for a last lap move. Sadly though for Collard there was a yellow flag out due to Paul O’Neill’s stricken Chevrolet Cruze and the chance was lost. As a result of this the WSR team had agreed as Foster had earlier let Collard past that if he could not take Jackson for the win then the positions would be reversed back. The team and Collard stuck to their word and indeed the positions were reversed with Foster being allowed to retake second.
Great to go into the break now in 2nd place.
A delighted Jackson said after the race, “Awesome! The team have done a great job all weekend and it was their decision in race 1 to go with slicks. Great to take a win finally at Croft. Saw Rob trying to get past Nick but Nick keeping him behind did us a favour. Great to go into the break now in 2nd place.”
Foster was also delighted to take his best ever BTCC position in his first season and said, “Brilliant! Got a great start but Mat got a run on me. Let Rob through but we swapped at the end, I heard over the radio that this might happen and it was a great result.”
Collard admitted he was more than happy to give the place back saying, “We have to work together and we wanted to set an example for team racing. Nicks speed is unbelievable and he’s the talk of the paddock at the moment. Its great to be back where we should be. Croft has often been fantastic for the BMW’s and Snetterton could be a real eye opener as to who comes out on top.”
In 4th before heading straight over to Australia following this third race was Andrew Jordan. Jordan was able to repeat his move in race 2 on Gordon Shedden in exactly the same position on lap 12.
Putting in a great drive for 5th was James Nash during the final race of the day coming up from 11th. Nash earlier got past Tom Chilton on lap 7 taking advantage as Neal dived down the inside of the Ford driver. Nash then later on got past both Honda's of Shedden and Neal to take a fine points finish at that the end of an “immensely frustrating” weekend.
In 6th and 7th were the two Honda's with Shedden and Neal heading home town hero Alex MacDowall, who was another driver to make good progress from 16th on the grid up to 8th following his race 2 mechanical issues. 9th was Chilton who had started second but he dropped down the field after he lost a handful of places on the opening lap after he slid sideways trying to overtake the car in front.
Dave Newsham took the final point for Special Tuning Racing while Jason Plato couldn’t progress from the tail end of the field after his race 2 problems and took 11th after he got hit sideways at the first corner going through the gravel. He would also lose plenty of time stuck behind the second Triple 8 Vectra of Tony Gilham and as a result now trails Neal by a massive 40 points following two non points scoring races this weekend.
In the other championships Honda Racing continues to dominate both the Manufactures'/Constructors' championship as well as leading the HiQ Teams' Championship.
Elsewhere in the Independent drivers' championship Jackson has now taken the lead in that while his team, Airwaves Racing, have also taken the lead in the Independent teams' Championship.
The series now heads into its annual summer break and will return on the 6th/7th of August where the teams will race for the first time in the new 300 configuration at Snetterton. So for any news regarding the BTCC over the summer break keep an eye to Motorsport.com for all news and stories as it happens.