Airwaves Racing are ready for one of their biggest dates in their relatively short Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship career as they head to Silverstone, still in the hunt for the outright Drivers’ Championship as well as the Independent Drivers’ and Teams’ Championships.
The team arrive at Silverstone just fifteen points off the lead in the Independents’ Team Trophy while they occupy third overall in the HiQ Teams’ Championship.
Team Manager Oly Collins said: “The turnaround and result at Brands was very welcome for the team, especially after the drama of Knockhill & Rockingham. It was nice for us all to be smiling after a race weekend for a change! Unfortunately I think it may be too late for the outright Championship, but until it’s mathematically impossible we will be trying everything to win it.”
It was announced earlier in the week that the Kent based squad would be further enhanced with the addition of double BTCC Champion James Thompson, in place of Michael Caine. Thompson joins the line up alongside Championship contender Mat Jackson and Liam Griffin.
Collins added: “We’ve got our eye on the Independents title now and with the effort that the whole of the Airwaves Racing team and supporters have put in this year it’s the very least they all deserve, but all we can do is go to Silverstone & try to win every race. With Thommo on board for the final races you can be sure that we won’t be going down without a fight; the rest is out of our hands and you never know what can happen in the BTCC. Let’s see how we get on!”
Thompson will look to help Jackson secure the outright drivers’ championship, the Independents’ Championship as well as the Independents’ Team Championship as well as third overall in the outright Teams’ Championship.
The Leeds based driver last had a full time BTCC drive in 2004, when he won his second title with VX Racing and he has spent the last few years racing in the World Touring Car Championship and up in Scandinavia.
His return to the BTCC has been one of the major talking points and he had his first experience of the #6 Airwaves Racing Ford Focus earlier in the week at Brands Hatch, a day which Thompson describes as productive: “We’ve had a great day testing at Brands, the car has run perfectly and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting back out on track. The Airwaves team have been a pleasure to work with; we’ve had a really productive day and made a few changes to the Focus – just to get me comfortable and set up for the weekend.
“This weekend will be my first competing in the Airwaves Focus and although it’s never easy to step straight into a new car, it’s still got four wheels and a steering wheel like the rest of them so I should hope that all my years’ racing will deliver a great result for the team at Silverstone.”
Jackson heads down the M40 to Silverstone on the back of two podium finishes at Brands Hatch, to end a run of six races without a top ten finish. He is one of the outsiders for the title, as he sits thirty six points behind Matt Neal with fifty two to play for.
The Henley-in-Arden driver has a good record at Silverstone, having secured three victories at the Northamptonshire circuit and visited the podium in each season the BTCC has visited the circuit while Jackson has been in the series.
The circuit should also play to the strengths of the turbocharged Ford Focus ST and Jackson starts off the weekend with 18kgs of success ballast on board and is confident of bringing home more silverware for the team.
Jackson said: “I know that a lot of people have written off my chance of winning the outright title, and I except that it’s a tall order, but while it’s still mathematically viable, then as far as I’m concerned it’s all to play for. Silverstone will suit our car, it’s one of our stronger circuits on the BTCC calendar and I really like it there. The Focus should perform well on the straights and we’re hopeful of a strong finish to our season.
“It’s great to have Thommo on board this weekend to support us for the Championship challenge. You always need that rivalry within a team; it’s healthy to have someone there who’s challenging and pushing you all the time and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can bring to the team in terms of set up and drive.”
Liam Griffin is looking to end his season on a high note and learn a few things from Thompson over the weekend: “I changed my driving style for the last round at Brands from earlier in the season and the result seemed to help me keep things smoother and therefore faster, so hopefully this will show further at Silverstone.
“It’s great to have a two-time champion in the team with us for the last few races; hopefully we can all learn something from James and he’ll pick up some points along the way. Personally I’m looking to finish my first season in the BTCC on a bit of a high and would like to have some top fifteen finishes and continue racing with the mid pack guys rather than those further back.”