Mat Jackson believes that he will soon be challenging for victories in the #4 Redstone Racing NGTC Ford Focus after an encouraging debut for the car at Snetterton.
“The title might be realistically out of reach now but the other leading NGTC teams including Honda and MG should be worried,” said the 18 times BTCC race winner. “I’ll have no qualms about mixing it up at the front if I sniff a win and I genuinely believe we will have the new NGTC Focus capable of challenging for race wins come Rockingham.”
With the brand new NGTC Ford Focus only being finished in the early hours of Saturday morning before the race weekend itself, and a trouble free run saw Jackson exceed all expectations.
“We totally exceeded all expectations at Snetterton,” says Mat from Henley in Arden, who brought the car home inside the top eight in all three races in Norfolk.
“48 hours before the event we still didn’t know if the car would make it and my older S2000 Focus was transported to the circuit as back-up. But then I got the phone call to say we were going for it and the team did a quite amazing job to get the car not just ready but prepared to a level which enabled it to run reliably and be competitive straight out of the box.”
Having started the season in the S2000 version of the car, Jackson had taken a brace of early season victories but as the season progressed, Jackson has found himself falling off the pace of the NGTC cars.
“The difference is immediate,” continued Jackson. “We’d really wrung everything there was to wring from the S2000 car and within a lap I could feel the NGTC was going to move us on to the next level and now I can see what we’ve been fighting against up until this point.
“There’s more grip, more stability, better braking and improved tyre wear. Good on David Bartrum and the Motorbase Performance people who are behind the Redstone Racing BTCC programme for making this happen.”
Despite not being in the Championship hunt, Jackson feels that the team caused a surprise and caught the imagination of the public with the switch to the NGTC Focus from the S2000 version.
“There was quite a bit else happening at Snetterton involving the three at the top of the table, Plato, Neal and Shedden but even then I still think we stole most of the headlines and really captured the public’s imagination,” Jackson added.
“We also achieved probably better results than if we’d been out in the S2000 car which is incredible. The whole team and all our great sponsors totally over delivered and it goes to show yet again that we are the most determined and close-knit outfit in the pit lane.”
Between the Snetterton and Knockhill race weekends, the team have had a chance to test the car at their local circuit, Brands Hatch. He is keeping his expectations cool ahead of the trip to Fife but expects to be very competitive once the season heads towards its conclusion in September.
“We can only get more competitive from here – it’s a learning process about how the new car works and that began at Brands mid-week,” concluded Jackson.
“Again the car ran trouble-free and we learnt a lot. Knockhill is a very different kind of circuit to Snetterton so we need to keep our feet on the ground and mustn’t get too excited – for example it often rains there and this car hasn’t yet run in the wet. But after that comes a month’s break and I’m confident when we get to Rockingham in late September we will be very competitive.”