22nd Aug, 2017

Henley-in-Arden's Mat strengthens lead in BTCC title chase

Stratford Editorial 4th Aug, 2017

HENLEY-IN-ARDEN racer Mat Jackson secured two class wins at Snetterton to help his team extend its lead at the top of the independent teams’ standings in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.

Jackson took two top-four finishes overall in last Sunday’s races, taking independent wins in the process, for Team Shredded Wheat Racing with DUO.

Despite problems in qualifying, Jackson also took points in the opener for the Motorbase-run team.

An unfortunate mechanical issue rued Jackson’s opportunities during Saturday’s qualifying session, when despite looking strong for a top five finish, the 36-year-old was forced to pit after just five laps and sit out the remainder of the session, eventually settling in 12th.

Starting from P13 after a late change to the grid for Sunday’s opener, Jackson’s race got off to bad start after taking a heavy hit from on the second lap, dropping him down to 19th. But a spirited drive moved the No 3 Ford Focus ST through the field to cross the line in 11th place.

A trademark fast-start off the line from Jackson in race two took him into sixth by the end of the first tour of the circuit.

Holding off challenges from the fast-charging Hondas, the Warwickshire-man chased down the factory BMWs before dropping back to seventh at one point as they battled for position.

A textbook move on Honda’s Jack Goff on the penultimate lap of the race meant Jackson grabbed fourth place – a position he held to the flag to take his first independent win of the day.

With the reverse grid draw putting Jackson fifth into Sunday’s closing race, he did well to avoid the opening lap dramas.

Taking a side-on hit on lap two, Jackson fell back to seventh but then charged up the inside of Matt Neal and James Cole to take fifth place as the pair tangled at Williams.

Jackson went on to take his second fourth place of the day and second successive Independent race win.

“It was a shame that we didn’t get the full distance in qualifying,” said Jackson.

“A minor issue put us out, and I’m pretty sure that we could have made the top five or six, so to have to settle for P13 was pretty hard to take.

“Race one was always going to be a challenge to come through from where we were and we took a big hit early on which knocked us back even further but we managed to fight back to 11th.

‘We made a big change to the car for race two which enabled us to hold our pace and race through to fourth for our first Independent win.

“Unfortunately I got turned around on the hairpin in race three which bent the front of the car but thankfully we managed to wrestle it round and finish in P4 again collecting our second Indy win.

“Hopefully we can take this form forward with us to Knockhill for the next round [on August12-13], top-four finishes and podiums are where we need to be to make sure that we nail the Independents’ Championships.”

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