Airwaves Racing (Motorbase Performance) team boss Dave Bartrum says that it is a “very proud” moment for his team to be leading the British Touring Car Championship with lead driver Mat Jackson for the first time. The team took the points lead after a race three win at Snetterton – and it also marks the first ever time Jackson has led the series.
“I’m a very proud man tonight, my team is leading the Championship for the very first time and I think it is a fantastic testament to all the hard work of everyone involved and the ever determined Mat Jackson,” said Batrum. “I shall be even more proud when we are having this conversation after the flag has dropped at the last race of the Championship at Silverstone come October.”
For lead driver Jackson the weekend hadn’t started in the strongest possible fashion, after he once again struggled for single lap pace. Ninth in the two practice sessions would be as good as it got on Saturday as he then qualified down in 14th for the first race.
“We had a bit of a nightmare again in qualifying,” said Jackson. “We tried something new on the Focus and it just didn’t work here, plus having the 36kg of ballast on board didn’t help our cause.”
However on race day Jackson fought his way up into sixth in the first race for a strong points finish and position to build upon in the second race. Despite a strong start in race two, Jackson was dropped down to 8th and thereafter found himself stuck behind the Chevrolet of Paul O’Neill on his way to another sixth placed finish.
Once again there was a huge amount of luck involved in race three as for the third consecutive meeting Jackson found himself starting near the front, thanks to the reverse grid draw. Jackson started behind Dave Newsham but on the second lap found a way past and from there he didn’t look back. The fact that it took O’Neill several laps longer to find a way past Newsham allowed Jackson to build up a comfortable lead that he kept for the rest of the race.
Commenting on his weekend, Jackson admitted that he was surprised how his luck has gone in the third race of the day.
“It didn’t look like this weekend was going to be going our way at first either, both of the first races were a bit of a struggle, so I was quite pleased to manage a couple of top six finishes,” said Jackson. “I was amazed that the reverse grid worked in our favour again and knew that we were capable of taking the lead; it was then just a case of keeping our heads and not making any mistakes to bring in another win for the team.”
“It’s the first time I’ve ever led the Championship and it feels great but I’m chuffed to bits for team boss David Bartrum, team manager Oly Collins, chief engineer Dave Potter and the rest of the Motorbase crew who run our cars.
“Everyone in the team and all our sponsors are up for this fight and there’s not a better team spirit anywhere in the pit lane. It’s put us in the best possible position for the next round at what’s arguably the most punishing circuit on the BTCC calendar [Knockhill], and with 45kg on board, things could get interesting!”
For the other Airwaves car driven by Liam Griffin it was another learning weekend. In the first race Griffin finished in 17th, whilst in the second he improved this to 14th due to a higher rate of attrition. In race three the Managing Director of London-based Minicab firm Addison Lee was taken out on the opening lap and could not continue after making heavy contact with the Riches barriers.
“I had a really good start in race 1 and felt that I was holding my own out there against the likes of Andy Neate and Martin Byford,” said Griffin. “The car was handling well and I was pretty pleased with my consistency in Race 2 after another solid start. I was looking forward to the final race of the day and to be taken out of the race like that through no fault of my own is gutting, I just got shunted straight into the barriers and before I could do anything about it, I got hit again. It just seems to be the way my luck is going in the BTCC at the moment – but I’ve learnt a lot again this weekend and have some great positives to take into Knockhill in a few weeks’ time.”
There was one final call from the team regarding the much-talked about controversial issue of engine equivalency. “With the strength of the Chevrolets this weekend though, it looks like parity may have swung the other way – hopefully TOCA will recognise this,” said team manager Olly Collins.
The BTCC will resume in just over three weeks at Knockhill in Scotland.