Steven Kane wins his first ever BTCC race in a one-two finish for the Airwaves BMW team at Thruxton; Mat Jackson secures two podium finishes – and Airwaves BMW lead the championship. Does it get any better than this?
From the off things looked good for the Airwaves BMW team as the clouds over the blistering Thruxton race circuit scattered and sunshine broke through. With the track dry the hopes and aspirations of the team were in Mat Jackson’s and Steve Kane’s hands, and boy, did they deliver.
Starting from seventh (7th), the ‘Fans’ Favourite’ Mat showed the world exactly why he is such a popular character on the BTCC grid.
From the very first corner, Jackson had Andrew Jordan’s Vauxhall biting at his heels, but the 29 year-old Warwickshire man held his nerve and bided his time. As an orderly queue formed behind Onslow-Cole’s Ford Focus, Jackson kept up his supreme pace, held off eager opposition and, pertinently, kept out of danger. As tyre issues saw front running Fords and Hondas drop like flies, Mat never lost his cool, gaining place after place in his bid for the podium. By the 14th lap of this fantastic drive Jackson had slotted himself into third position, but there was still so much more to come.
Steven Kane was the more unfortunate of the BMW Airwaves drivers. During the warm-up lap his BMW 320si suffered a drive-shaft issue that saw him miss the first ten laps of the sixteen-lap race. Thankfully, the BMW Airwave team kicked up a gear and managed to fix the problem within twenty minutes, giving the Ulsterman a brief warm up before the serious business of round two.
The dry weather continued as the second race of the day got underway. Mat Jackson, starting from third, had his eyes firmly on a second podium spot, but nothing in racing is certain and as the flag dropped, a wonder start from O’Neil’s Honda Integra left the Henley-on-Arden driver in fourth.
Steve Kane, starting from 18th on the grid after his earlier mechanical issues, drove his heart out. With the BMW Airwaves team’s hearts in mouths, Kane was rewarded handsomely. Finishing eighth he moved ten places up the field earning 3 points, which, come the end of the season, could make all the difference.
By the end of lap 16 Jackson had also done his team proud, finishing in 5th position, adding a further six points to his tally and reinforcing his title pretentions. He slotted home behind fourth place Plato, while Giovanardi, Matt Neal and Paul O’Neil took the first to third podium slots.
Lets be fair though, today was all about the final race, which from the off had everything a race fan could wish for. Kane, starting from second on the grid, lined up alongside Collard in pole. The pair battled and Kane looked to be getting the better of the WSR driver, until Matt Neal stormed into view, and, with a perilous overtaking manoeuvre, took out both himself and Collard. This left the door open for Kane, and he wasn’t going to look back.
From the lights Jackson, who started in fifth, moved up into fourth. With Collard out and Neal severely damaged he stepped into second, and stayed there.
This leaves Kane in fifth with 19 points and Jackson third with 28 in the Driver’s Championship. It also puts Airwaves BMW top of the team and championship leader board with 46 points. What a weekend!
Airwaves BMW Team Manager Oliver Collins said:
“The perfect result at the end of the day to repay all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes from everybody. Leaving Thruxton leader of the team’s championship was beyond our initial expectations. We really kicked up a gear and showed the competition what we can achieve. The Porsches winning just topped off the day.”
Airwaves BMW Team driver Steven Kane said:
“After the first race and the drive-shaft issue I wasn’t sure today would be my day, but during the second race the car felt great and I made up a great deal of places. In the last race I was starting in second, and I felt confident I could do well, but, I pushed so hard chasing and trying to pass Collard my tyres were gone. Once he went out I knew I could do it, but Mat was on my tail and it was tough. The team have been amazing and I want to thank them. I kicked up a gear and my first win in the BTCC means the world.”
Airwaves BMW Team driver Mat Jackson said:
“This is great for the team and great for me, I’m delighted. The car is fast, very fast and very well sorted. It gives you confidence and allowed me to push for the two podiums today. A one-two win for the team, on the first day of the season is beyond anyone’s expectations, but I’m not complaining. The hard work paid off and believe me there’s more to come.”
Source: Motorbase Performance