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Speedworks hoping tests pay off

Speedworks Motorsport heads to its home race this weekend for the British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park in Cheshire, with the team hoping recent testing mileage pays off.

The team are based just 16 kilometres away from Oulton Park in Great Budworth. Ollie Jackson, who is currently languishing down in 21st in the championship standings, is hoping recent test sessions at Pembrey in South Wales and Donington Park in Derbyshire will lead to an improvement in results.

“The extra seat time has been a big help, because now I have a much better understanding of how the car behaves,” said Jackson, who is in his third season of racing in the BTCC. “We achieved a lot in those two days, both in terms of set-up and finding more speed. The things we tried, on the whole, worked well and has left everybody feeling pretty positive about Oulton Park.”

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Jackson has struggled to find pace in the Toyota since the season began and has recorded just one points-scoring result, in the season opener at Brands Hatch. Since then Jackson has regularly been amongst the slowest of the NGTC drivers.

“I don’t think that initial result was a fluke, more an indication of the circumstances,” said Jackson. “There were a lot of drivers racing a new car for the first time, whereas the Toyota has been around a little while.

“I’ve had some fairly rotten luck since [the season opener], plus we’ve had one or two struggles for speed. It’s been tough to change from being in the smallest car on the grid to the biggest one. Making that adjustment in a stressful situation like a race meeting has resulted in mistakes when I’ve perhaps worked it too hard.

“That’s why the tests have been important, not only for me but the team too. I’ve been on a bit learning curve, but that’s the challenge of being a BTCC driver.”

Compared to 2012, Dave Newsham has also struggled in the team’s Toyota. The Scot has recorded a best result of seventh in 2013, whereas last season he had already scored two podiums in the ageing Vauxhall Vectra by the same point in the season.

“It’s probably fair to say we have underachieved so far this season, but I’ve a feeling that is about to change,” admitted Newsham, 45. “Don’t get me wrong; the series is probably the most competitive it has been for a long time, so beating the leading teams will still be a struggle.

“We can be confident we’ve closed the gap though. It’s clear we’ve been off the pace and so needed to develop quickly. I think we have done.”

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