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Determined drives & bad luck for Airwaves

There were frustrated faces in the Airwaves BMW camp after Knockhill’s three rounds of the 2010 BTCC. Despite showing strong pace throughout the weekend the team were left to mull over what might have been and take just one podium finish from the weekend courtesy of Steven Kane.

Qualifying on Saturday saw Kane secure his best qualifying result of the season with a fine fifth place. In the opening race he made the most of his BMW’s relative kindness on its rear tyres to bide his time behind the leaders, moving up to fourth at the mid-distance. Then, with just two laps to go, he passed Matt Neal for third at Scotsman’s corner and his seventh podium of the season.

Mat Jackson had an altogether more difficult opening race. Aftera failure of his BMW’s driveshaft in qualifying left him 12th on the grid for race one he was then involved in a skirmish with Tom Onslow-Cole and Paul O’Neill whilst running eighth late in the race. The ensuing off-track excursion meant that he lost several places and could only manage a solitary point for tenth. In addition Jackson was penalised for taking out James Nash with a fine of £250 and 3 points on his racing licence.

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In the second race of the day Kane had looked set for another podium finish. However towards the end of the race he became embroiled in a battle with Tom Chilton and Jason Plato behind, meaning Kane had to vigorously defend his position.First it was Plato making contact with Kane, a move that earned him 3 points on his racing licence, nudging him into the hairpin to pass the Airwaves driver. Then as Kane struggled to get on the power along the main straight, Chilton drew alongside.

As Chilton attempted to pass through Duffus Dip the two drivers made contact, for which Chilton was also given 3 penalty points, spinning Kane who then collected the passing Paul O’Neill. Kane was able to recover to finish in fifth position but his efforts had not been fully rewarded.

Jackson Had a fighting second race to work his way up from tenth at the start to sixth by the end of the race. This paid dividends for the final race of the day after Jackson was drawn to start from the front row of the grid alongside Tom Onslow-Cole.

It was a brief challenge for Kane in the final race however. After being selected to start from third, he was unable to even make the start of the race when he was forced to retire after the formation lap. A differential failure on his BMW meant that Kane was robbed of a chance to fight for the victory.

However the team still had their hopes pinned on Jackson, although those hopes soon faded. On the opening lap of the race Jackson attempted to pass Onslow-Cole through the Butchers chicane. With little margin for error through the uphill, narrow track Jackson made contact and spun out. “I should have won the last race here and the car was capable,” admitted Jackson later. “I went to pass Onslow-Cole on the first lap, in hindsight I should have waited so I’m gutted about that. On another day I could have ended up landing in the right direction but today I didn’t, and it lost me a lot of places.”

Jackson rejoined down in seventh but his challenge for the race was over and fifth position was all he could manage by the end of the race. It was, however, a determined drive from Jackson.

Commenting after the weekend, Steven Kane said: “It’s a real shame things went as they did in that last race as a podium was there for the taking, I’m not sure if Chilton’s knock earlier caused the diff failure, but either way the car was out of the running after that. 18 points from the weekend is respectable for me, but I would have liked to go into the last two races with a few more. The car is great and Donnington suits the BMW more so we shall see if we can kick up a gear and pull it back.”

Jackson summed up his weekend by saying “”I drove pretty well today but I made some mistakes and they cost me. I’m frustrated with myself but I scored some points which I will think about before Donington.”

Finally, team manager Oliver Collins had his say on the team’s performance over the weekend: “A fantastic podium for Steven in race one started the day off really well, but of course we’re disappointed after the potential of race three. Steven was so unlucky to suffer a differential issue on the outlap which forced him out, Mat went for an early overtake and unfortunately in didn’t pay off today and he damaged his car, making his fifth place very respectable. Other than that a positive weekend with some good points but we didn’t quite get the rub of the green. We’re looking forward to a successful race at Donnington.”

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