Having made the long trip from Kent to Scotland as the leaders of the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, Airwaves Racing made the long trip south disappointed as they lost their Drivers’ Championship lead while seeing their advantage in the Independent teams’ and drivers’ Championships slashed after four DNF’s between mat Jackson and Liam Griffin in the three races.
Team Manager of Airwaves Racing, Oly Collins can’t believe the weekend which the team had across the border at the Fife circuit: “What a weekend. That’s certainly one to forget! To start the day leading the title and come away with one solitary point for fastest lap is not what we expected. It was just one of those days I suppose. On a positive we were very happy with the pace of Mat’s car all weekend even with 45Kgs. Proven with fastest lap in race 2. Roll on Rockingham.”
What had looked like a promising weekend for the team soon turned into a nightmare. The two free practice sessions and qualifying had shown that even with the 45kgs of success ballast on board – that Mat Jackson was going to be there or there abouts come race day. He qualified seventh for the first race – this was the only highlight of the weekend.
Sunday’s first race looked promising as Jackson moved his way into P5 and closed to the lead pack before an optimistic move from Rob Collard up the chicane caused Jackson to suffer a puncture on lap twenty three – only his smart driving saved the car from a serious amount of damage. Jackson rejoined after the pit stop and finished seventeenth.
Having started on the eighth row for race two, Jackson had once again made progress up the field and just after he set the fastest lap of the race, his suffered yet another puncture due to a damaged wheel – and extensive damage to the front of his #7 Airwaves Racing Ford Focus was the end result.
This retirement meant that Jackson would line up dead last for the third race of the weekend but more disappointment was to come. Having worked his way up to seventh and within five seconds of the race leader, up at the hairpin, he made heavy contact with the rear of the Team Aon Ford Focus, contact which caused the engine to cut out and his second DNF of the day. This was a disappointing way to end as earlier in the race, he had made a brave but bold move around the outside of the hairpin to gain three spots in a single move.
Jackson has never knock such rotten luck in all of his racing years but is looking forward to the final three circuits on the calendar, as he explains: “I’ve never known bad luck like this in all my years of racing. The Airwaves team put out a fantastic car this weekend; unfortunately we couldn’t deliver the race results that the pace of the car was capable of. My mistake in race three put an end to our chances of salvaging a result after showing how strong it was coming from last place on the grid, but it’s done and we’ve got to look forward to Rockingham now.”
“I really like the final three circuits on the calendar and have had wins at all of them before and its wins I really need from now on. The grid is becoming more and more competitive all the time so it will be tough but I know I’m in the right car and with the right team to get the job done.”
For team-mate Liam Griffin, the trip north didn’t fare much better as he could only record one race finish, that in the final race of the day. The opening two races saw Griffin suffer with Mechanical and Electrical faults before he produced a solid showing in the final race as he secured himself a sixteenth place finish – this being a positive end to the weekend for the Airwaves Racing team.
Griffin said at the end of the weekend: “I think it’s fair to say that the weekend was a disappointment for everyone in the team. We fully expected Knockhill to be tough but no-one anticipated it would go as badly as it did. We had issues with my car for each of the first races that were totally unpredictable, but the boys did well to get me back out for the third race and I was fairly satisfied to come in where I did at 16th from the back of the grid.”
Airwaves Racing will aim to get their Championship challenge back on track at Rockingham over the 17/18 September, the eighth weekend of ten in 2011.