Mat Jackson insists that he and his Motorbase Performance team “clearly aren’t quick enough”, despite taking pole position in qualifying for the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) at Silverstone.
Jackson beat Honda’s Gordon Shedden to pole in the penultimate qualifying session of the year by 0.206 seconds, but despite taking his second successive pole he believes he still isn’t quick enough.
“What is impressive is that Gordon has been P2 on both occasions with full ballast,” said Jackson to TouringCars.Net. “We’re clearly not quick enough, because if we put 75 kg in ours I don’t think we’ll see the same result. Although it’s good, we’ve got to be mindful of the guys around us. That Honda certainly looks like it’s on fire.”
Whilst Jackson is running ballast-free in qualifying thanks to being 14th overall in the championship, Shedden must carry 75 kg of weight for being the championship leader going into the meeting.
“We’ve got the luxury of not having any championship ballast,” continued Jackson. “We’ve run at the front of the championship for a long time, and no we haven’t got that [ballast]. The regulations this year have changed and 45 kg is obviously not a huge amount to carry, so they’ve upped it to 75 kg. It hurts.
“In all honesty, 10, 20 or 30 kilos probably isn’t going to make much difference. We saw that last year and that’s the reason why they’ve upped the ballast, so it would be nice from an internal point for us to go to Brands with some weight in the car – that clearly would mean we’ve done a good job.”
Jackson insists that his advantage is not down to their new engine, which has consistently been near the top end of the speed traps throughout Saturday.
“The engine is really interesting, because if anybody cared to look at the on-board footage from the car, we’re not actually the fastest down the straight. It’s the same if anybody cared to look at the speed traps, we’re talking about a 0.3 mph [advantage], it’s not even significant.
“In terms of our main rivals, we run #4 on the car because we finished fourth in the championship last season. We’re not running there this season, so we’re completely out of position, we haven’t got any ballast on board. Maybe we should have 50 or 60 kg strapped alongside us and we’d have a different story.
“For sure the engine is strong, the chassis is strong and we’ve got the advantage of not carrying any ballast. It’s a combination that really should be at the front of the grid.”
Looking ahead to Sunday, Jackson refused to rule out a challenge from Shedden, despite the substantial weight difference between the front row duo.
“We need to focus on tomorrow and all we can do is the best that we can do. We’re starting in the best position – let’s see what happens. Gordon clearly is a force to be reckoned with – the Honda clearly is the fastest of the competition.”