With sandwiches cut, cold drinks packed and summer shorts on, tens of thousands of motoring fans poured into Norfolk's Snetterton racetrack for rounds 16/17/18 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship. It's been a long time coming after...
With sandwiches cut, cold drinks packed and summer shorts on, tens of thousands of motoring fans poured into Norfolk's Snetterton racetrack for rounds 16/17/18 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship. It's been a long time coming after the seven-week summer breather, and with the sun shining the day would be remembered for Jackson's second place podium finish and a solid and respectable points haul for the team.
Airwaves BMW drivers Jackson and Kane, perhaps the finest pairing on the BTCC grid, needed to reel in some points today, and it was on Jackson who secured a solid fourth place grid position in the day's first race that the team's hopes were pinned.
Kane, caught short in yesterday's qualifying session by a sudden change in weather, had a tougher job on his hands; starting in eleventh he would need to make up places if he was to have any chance of increasing his points tally for the season.
As the flag dropped Jackson made a great start, jumping ahead of Chilton and into 2nd. There he remained, glued to the rear end of Plato's Chevrolet for what seemed like an eternity. Jackson, a man with a great deal of experience piloting the rear-wheel drive BMW, had every reason to be hopeful. He, like every other racing fan, knew that in time the front- wheel drive Cruise of Plato would start to lose grip from its front tyres, just as it has done in every race so far this season.
Ten laps in and Jackson was ready to mount his challenge, but to the surprise of many Plato's car somehow managed to put in his fastest lap with just three remaining. A genuinely surprised Jackson was as miffed as us all but that's racing, and a second place podium finish is not something to be sniffed at. Nor the 12 points he was rewarded with.
Kane, from eleventh, got stuck in as usual and spent some ten laps battling and switching places with Boardman, Jordan and O'Neil. In the end the Ulsterman came out on top, and emerged in seventh after passing Jordan's Vectra and Boardman's Seat. He collected 4 points for himself and the Airwaves team.
Race two, round 17, and things looked promising with Jackson starting in second and Kane a few spots behind. Then things changed. A safety car on lap two followed an incident at The Esses that forced Boardman, O'Neil and George to retire, but the bunching of the field that resulted created its own problems.
Although Kane moved through the grid, passing Nash and Shedden on lap 4 to move up to fifth, the sheer pace of the LPG powered Fords made things very tough for Jackson, who, come the Revett and Senna straights, could do very little outside of keeping his right foot planted and preying, but that would not be enough. In the end, while trying to defend his line, the pair of fast Fords squeezed past him from either side, pushing him down into 4th.
Kane, further down the grid but as determined as ever moved past Shedden and then past his team mate, who ran wide at Sears in his bid to claw back some time. With great skill Jackson held Shedden's Civic off for the duration of the race, which resulted in a fourth and fifth place spots for the Airwaves BMW drivers Kane and Jackson, and a points haul of 8 and 6 respectively. Plato, Chilton and Onslow-Cole would take the top three podium positions.
The day's final race saw Jackson start in sixth with Kane in seventh thanks to the lottery of the reverse grid system. Things started well for both drivers, with Jackson moving up to fifth as Nash fell off at Riches and out of the race. Then, just two laps later, Onslow-Cole left little room for Jackson, got his measurements all wrong and ended up colliding with the Warwickshire man. The resultant impact forced him off the course and to the back of the grid, while Jackson lost momentum, increasing the gap irretrievably between himself and Plato.
Kane, who started in seventh, pushed his BMW hard, but against the sheer pace of the Chevrolets did well to hang in there and defended his track position. With Onslow-Cole out he moved to sixth and stayed there for the duration of the race. In the end Shedden, Collard and Neal took the top spots, but Kane's efforts earned him a valuable 5 points that have left him in second in the Independent Drivers Championship with 139, just 6 points behind Onslow-Cole with 145. Jackson lies in third with 128 points after earning a further 4 championship points.
Airwaves BMW continue to lead the Independent Teams championship with 180 points, and are second in the overall Teams Championship with 199 points, 17 behind Honda Racing Team on 216.
Airwaves BMW Team driver Steven Kane said:
"A difficult weekend out there but a good points haul for the team. In terms of the bigger picture the Ford's and Chevy's seem to gave a real advantage and it seems to surface only when they need it too. I think the car feels great and extremely competitive so here at Snetterton I think we've done alright overall"
Airwaves BMW Team driver Mat Jackson said:
"If I said I was satisfied I'd be lying, if I said I was disappointed I would too! Race one today was great, race two we got some solid points and in race three I felt I was unlucky to be involved in the incident with Onslow-Cole, I'm not sure he gave me the room he could have and with his pace down the straight I'm not sure if he needed to position his car where he did. I'm looking forward to Silverstone, the team and Jeff in particular have done a fantastic job with the car and I'm raring to get on with it and get the job done"
Airwaves BMW Team Manager Oliver Collins said:
"A solid point scoring weekend with a good podium for Mat in race one and good points in all three rounds. Unfortunately slightly disappointing end to the day in a race where we couldn't match the straight line speed of the Focus or Chevrolets."
-source: airwaves bmw
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