Airwaves Racing driver Mat Jackson has expressed his disappointment to the news that the NGTC engined-racers face a further 0.05 bar reduction in boost pressure ahead of this weekend’s races at Snetterton.
Jackson, who is currently second in the championship in his NGTC-powered Ford Focus, feels that those teams who chose to switch to the future regulations of the BTCC are being unfairly penalised for attempting to take a step forward. “It is a shame that we get penalised for doing the job properly!” said Jackson.
“We have embraced the new engine regulations, these rules and regulations were open to each and every team in the championship. There has been a huge amount of investment by all NGTC teams that have embraced the engine change [and] if we look at the facts none of the S2000 engine teams have done any pre-season testing nor have they done any testing during the six week break – so really is it any wonder that they are struggling for pace?”
Despite this, Jackson still believes that the team will have a strong weekend on the new Snetterton 300 layout, based upon his feelings from testing there earlier in the year.
“We did some preseason testing on the Snetterton circuit at the start of the season with all the other fellow NGTC teams and the test went well for us, posting the second fastest time behind the Honda, so it should be fun to see how much we have all progressed throughout the season,” added Jackson.
Motorbase Performance Team Manager Olly Collins agreed with his lead driver’s views, adding that he thinks it is not the regulations that are at fault but the development programs of the teams not running to the NGTC engine regulations.
“We’re of course, very disappointed that the deferred boost limit has been brought in for Snetterton,” said Collins. “At Croft, with the exception of Mat Jackson who drove a near on qualifying lap for the whole of race 3, the BMW’s had the measure of everyone by some margin. The two of them, despite Mat holding them back for the whole race, finished over ten seconds ahead of anyone else. No car has an advantage like that at any circuit especially one which is past its best in terms of development (it’s six years old now and still in the same format).
“We also saw the Chevrolet on pole and, although they did suffer some terrible luck, I think they would have been more than a match for the turbo cars in dry conditions. Most teams have been out testing trying to go quicker both pre-season and mid-season but none of the Chevrolets or BMW’s have done any testing mid-season and have had an extremely short pre-season test programme by everyone else’s standards, yet they are still complaining their cars are not as fast as those that are developing. I don’t think it’s the turbo that’s the problem; I think it’s the approach of those teams.”
Speaking about the development work being done on the Focus, Collins added: “It’s been a long break, maybe a little too long but we’ve been busy in all areas. We’ve done a fair amount of work on the handling of the Focus, we’re getting it ever closer to where we want it but also doing that on a tight budget makes the task a little harder. The engineers and mechanics have been doing a great job improving the car and from the drivers feedback at our recent tests we feel we’re moving the right direction.”
Meanwhile the team’s second driver Liam Griffin has been working on his race craft during the long mid-season break – including getting some expert advice from his more experienced team-mate. Griffin’s best result so far this season has been a single ninth-placed finish, and he is hoping to have a stronger second half of the season.
“We have only managed to get out in the race car once in the break but I have managed to spend a bit of time on track in a Mountune prepared Focus RS,” said Griffin. “Mat Jackson has been brave enough to sit next to me for a number of these sessions and he has been great in helping me to improve my knowledge of the circuits and also my technique. It has certainly helped my confidence and hopefully this will show when we arrive at Snetterton and throughout the rest of the season.
“I can’t wait to get back in the car for a race weekend and having spent a few days at the new Snetterton 300 it has really started to grow on me after initially being a little disappointed with the changes. Whilst I am still unsure of the new Coram the new infield is technical yet rewarding and I think adds a couple of overtaking chances that it perhaps lacked before.”