AIRWAVES Racing’s Mat Jackson rounded off a superb British Touring Car Championship season with a drive from 12th place on the grid to third place and his seventh podium of the season in what can only be described as horrendous weather conditions at Brands Hatch, writes Andy Parsons.
The weekend had started well for Henley-in-Arden’s Jackson, having gone well in both the free practice sessions, and when qualifying time arrived he was able to get his #6 Ford Focus ST up to eighth place, although he had hoped to be higher but was thwarted when the session was red flagged with just a few minutes remaining.
Sunday arrived and along with it some decent sunny and quite warm weather for the first race and this played into the Airwaves team’s hands as they had gambled on these conditions when they selected this race to use the softer but faster white-marked tyre.
Jackson made a great start off the line but was then lucky not to be collected by a spinning Gordon Shedden’s Honda Civic as he managed to miss all the mayhem that was occurring around him.
The upshot was that Jackson emerged in fourth place and was able to set about chasing the drivers in front of him in an effort to make the podium. Ultimately, however, he was unable to make any further progress and came home in fourth place.
Starting from fourth in race two, Jackson again made a good start and was up with the leaders – Colin Turkington and Jason Plato – by the end of the first lap. He held station there and was hoping for the front two to start dicing for the lead.
This they did and, when Plato made a dive for the lead going into the first corner, contact with leader Turkington was inevitable and Jackson was able to pounce, take full advantage and the lead.
Also at this point third place in the drivers’ standings was looking a distinct possibility as Shedden had been forced to retire from the first race with the damage incurred in his first corner incident, giving him zero points from the race.
Disaster for Jackson was literally just round the corner though as going into Hawthornes he clipped the grass, sending him into a spin and the barriers. He was able to recover and luckily the car was not too badly damaged, but this had put him to the back of the field and out of the points.
From here it was a matter of how many places he could recover with an eye on making it to tenth place and the possibility of moving forward with the reverse grid, however 12th was the best he could manage, leaving him a tough drive in the final race.
Race three arrived and with it the rain that had been threatening all afternoon. All the drivers were on wet tyres and the rain and the light was getting worse by the minute. For the third time Jackson made a stellar getaway from the line, gaining several places, and as the rain got heavier Jackson seemed to revel in the challenge.
He was also helped by several drivers making errors and finding themselves either in the gravel traps or down the order. The upshot was that Jackson emerged from the gloom in third place behind his team-mate Jack Clarke in the Crabbies Racing Ford Focus, making it an excellent finish to the 2014 BTCC season for the Motorbase drivers.
At the end of the day a delighted Jackson, who finished second in the independents drivers’ championship standings, said: “Wow, what a season finale, that was a tough weekend but again we have come away with some silverware and I am over the moon for Jack (Clarke) and the whole Motorbase team.
“They have all been awesome all through the season. Third would have been good in the drivers’ standings but unfortunately it didn’t quite work out, but I am still delighted with fourth place.”
Overall the drivers title went to ebay Motors’ Turkington, with Plato second in the KX Clubcard Fuelsave MG6 and Honda Yuasa’s Shedden third in the Civic Tourer.
We now have to wait until March next year to see who will be out in 2015 but everyone is looking forward to another epic BTCC season.