HENLEY’S Mat Jackson was in dazzling form as he secured a victory and second place at the second round of the British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park.
It was a highly successful weekend for Jackson and the Motorbase Performance team and after two meetings of the 2016 campaign there have been six different winners in as many races.
The Leicestershire track supplied non-stop racing drama over the weekend and Jackson emerged as a serious title contender following a stunning opening race win and second place in race two.
Under changing and very challenging qualifying conditions, Jackson looked set for a strong start to the weekend as he topped the timing screens early on in the session.
Despite an off-track excursion in the closing minutes, the DUO-backed driver secured an impressive third placed grid spot.
Starting behind the manufacturer-backed MGs in race one, Jackson stormed off the line to steal the lead in the #7 Focus. Under relentless pressure from a charging Josh Cook, Jackson delivered a defensive masterclass to hold off the competition to claim Motorbase’s first outright win of the season along with fastest lap honours.
With maximum 75kg ballast on board, Jackson had a tough task ahead of him in race two to hold off the lighter following pack and an opening lap safety car did little to help the DUO-backed driver.
However, another faultless drive from Jackson saw him maintain the lead until Rob Collard’s charging BMW pushed through to take the lead in the closing laps, leaving the #7 Focus to cross the line in second and secure the Independent race win in the process.
Race three was a more subdued affair. With the Motorbase Focus ST running the softer tyre compound and low track temperatures playing a part, the advantage of the medium compound tyre soon became obvious and severe tyre degradation in the closing laps hindered Jackson’s progress and he did well to salvage a P14 finish.
Motorbase Performance lead the Independent Team standings and sit third in the overall championship, with Jackson and team-mate Jordan currently second and third respectively in the Independent Drivers’ standings.
Jackson said: “The weekend started really well for us. The car felt really strong in free practice and then we carried that through into qualifying where, despite our little mishap, we still managed to grab P3 which was a great result.
“We got a great jump on the MGs in race one and managed to control the race all the way through. It’s always a good feeling to get that first win of the season under your belt and it’s encouraging the car performed really well in race two again, even with full ballast on board.
“Race three was tough. It started well but the combination of the ballast and soft tyre wasn’t ideal, so it was a bit of a frustrating end to a great weekend, but the car has been on the pace all weekend and we’ve managed to challenge for wins.
“The Motorbase have done a fantastic job once again and we feel upbeat heading to Thruxton.”
Team manager Oly Collins added: “It’s been a great weekend for Mat and the team. He’s been on the top of his game all weekend and getting Motorbase’s first win of the year is a fantastic reward for the whole team.
“Unfortunately Andrew (Jordan) hasn’t had the best weekend but that happens sometimes. He was unfortunate in qualifying when the circuit dried and he made a mistake which prematurely ended his qualifying, so starting out of position he did well to get three points finishes.
“We’ll go to Thruxton in a buoyant mood confident of securing some more strong results. We’re leading the way in the Independent Teams and third behind two manufacturer teams in the overall standings so I would say that it’s been a pretty good start to the year!”
The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship now has a three-week break before heading to the fastest circuit on the calendar – Thruxton in Hampshire – for round three on May 7/8.