Redstone Racing performed the ultimate comeback to celebrate the maiden victory for its new NGTC Ford Focus ST and five top ten finishes during an action-packed penultimate round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Silverstone this weekend (October 6/7).
A penalty for exceeding track limits was later applied to Dave Newsham’s #17 Vectra, promoting Jackson into P2 for the first of Sunday’s races. With the NGTC Focus on the front row, expectations in the Redstone camp were high and Jackson didn’t disappoint.
After fighting off Collard’s BMW during the opening laps, Jackson quickly caught Plato’s MG and cruised into the lead, breaking the lap record twice in the process.
The Mountune-powered NGTC Focus ST looked to be heading for its first outright win when a throttle failure cruelly cut short any hopes of a win – forcing Jackson into retirement with less than three laps remaining.
The race would deliver mixed emotions for the Motorbase-run squad as further back in the field, BTCC rookie Aron Smith systematically worked his way through the BTCC pack to battle his way into third place, securing his first visit to the BTCC podium in style.
Liam Griffin’s return to the Championship was unfortunately marred by a heavy shunt from Lea Wood midway through the race, wrecking the steering on the S2000 Focus resulting in a DNF.
Within the opening laps, however, it soon became clear that Jackson wasn’t prepared to rest on his laurels and the Redstone man had managed to work his way up into fifth place by the eighth lap – setting another new lap record of 59.056 along the way.
The deployment of the safety car in the next lap allowed Jackson to jump past Newsham, and with just two laps to go as Jackson moved passed Collard to take P2, race leader Plato’s MG limped out - handing the lead to Jackson to take his sixth Independent win and third overall of the season.
After what must be classed as one of the most thrilling drives of the 2012 season, Jackson secured a very special maiden race win for the in-house built NGTC Focus ST to a delighted Motorbase squad.
The S2000 Focuses also fared well in the second race, where Motorsport Ireland’s Young Driver of the Year, Smith, despite having 27kg of ballast on board for the first time, battled well at the front of the pack to cross the line in seventh.
Likewise, Redstone team-mate Liam Griffin managed to pick his way through the field unscathed, making up an impressive eleven places to finish in P13.
Former Olympic athlete and Redstone guest for the day, Derek Redmond, was on hand to draw the reverse grid for final race of the day. Unfortunately the draw didn’t go the way of the Redstone team and saw Smith line up in seventh and Jackson back in tenth on the final grid of the day.
With the maximum ballast of 45kg on board the NGTC got off got off to a flying start. Jackson took advantage of the tight formation of the lead group and the Redstone man had worked his way up into fifth in opening ten laps.
After moving on and beating Independent rival Jordan and current Championship leader Sheddon, Jackson chased down the pair of West Surrey BMW’s to snatch a stunning second place finish, and his second podium visit of the day.
Both Smith and Griffin were on the receiving end of some robust challenges during a frantic final race, with Smith also having to take evasive action to avoid being collected in the opening laps.
In spite of the losing a number of places following a shunt from Jordan, Smith kept his head and brought his S2000 across the line in tenth, securing three top ten finishes across the weekend and collecting more welcomed points for the Redstone team.
Unfortunately, Griffin did not get the return he was hoping for this weekend, with an electrical fault on his S2000 Focus forcing an early retirement.
This weekend’s successes have helped to further rejuvenate Redstone Racing’s challenge for the Independents Championship, with the team now sitting just ten points behind current leaders Ebay Motors.
Both Jackson and Smith also improved their positions in the Independents drivers’ standings and head to the season finale at Brands Hatch on October 20/21 in third and seventh place respectively.
Redstone Racing Team Manager Oly Collins said: “That’s been an outstanding weekend. Obviously we were all devastated after losing the win in race one, but everyone got their heads down and got on with it and we were rewarded accordingly.
“It was great to see Aron get a long overdue podium, he really deserved it. I felt for Liam as he only really had the second race to race well, and he did.
Mat and Aron’s driving was simply spot on all day today and the team were as normal on top of everything. We’re now looking forward to the final round at our home track, Brands!”
Redstone Racing driver Mat Jackson said: “It’s been a good weekend as whole. Obviously qualifying was good getting P2, it was a great start and race 1 looked like it was going to be the dream come true.
It wasn’t to be, and in hindsight getting the first win from P17 was a bigger achievement than taking it from P2 – although we would’ve liked both! The 45kg of ballast in race 3 took the edge off the car so to get a second was mega.
“We came here this weekend with another new approach and it seems to work so we’re really happy.
We’re still a long way behind MG and Honda in terms of time with the NGTC car but we’ve got the right guys in place to move the car forward and it’s looking very, very positive for us.”
Redstone Racing driver Aron Smith said: “Definitely the best weekend of my year. It kind of all clicked into place this weekend and it was an unbelievable feeling to get my first podium.
“Everything’s been coming together for the last few rounds and I just feel that I’ve clicked with the car and the team; we’ve become a much stronger unit and come on leaps and bounds.
Pretty much since the start of the second half of the season we’ve been challenging for top five so it was on the cards, so to finally get it, is a great, great feeling – I’m chuffed!”
Redstone Racing driver Liam Griffin said: “That was not the return I was hoping for at all, it was hardly the dream weekend. I’m going home pretty disappointed.
“Some of the boys out there are so determined to race for fifteenth place that they’ll smash into the back of you left, right and centre for a fifteenth place finish and I’m not prepared to do that.
I’m looking forward to going to Brands and hopefully I’ll just get to enjoy some racing.”
Source: Redstone Racing