ONCE again Henley-in-Arden British Touring Car Championship star Mat Jackson was able to reap the rewards at the home of British motorsport as he claimed third, fourth and first places during a magnificent Sunday’s racing at Silverstone, writes Andy Parsons.
The weekend started well for Jackson as he got the car dialled in well in the two free practice sessions on Saturday and, with confidence in the car high, was able to put the Ford Focus car fourth on the grid in the half-hour qualifying session – much to his and the Airwaves Racing team’s delight – especially with new partners Whirlpool watching on.
Starting from fourth in the day’s first race, Jackson made a good start and managed to get ahead of the MG6 of Sam Tordoff and, having kept this position for the rest of the first lap, set about chasing down title challengers Jason Plato and Colin Turkington in front of him.
Jackson, though, could not quite get on terms with the BMW of Turkington who was now second behind the MG6 of Plato and this is how it finished, with a very happy Jackson taking a trip to the podium for his third placed finish.
For the second of the day’s races and with Jackson now on the softer white marked tyres and having an additional 27kg success ballast, the Airwaves driver knew he needed to get away well from the start.
This he did and, although he could not make any progress towards the front of the field, he was able to maintain his third placed starting position.
As the race progressed though he began to come under pressure from the VW of former champion Alain Menu and unfortunately, as his tyres began to go off ,Jackson was unable to resist the Swiss driver and had to drop down a place to fourth, which he was able to maintain to the chequered flag.
The final race of the day saw Jackson moved to fourth on the grid following the reverse grid draw, although Jackson’s Airwaves team-mate Fabrizio Giovanardi would start on pole.
However, there was drama before the start when the MG of Tordoff encountered engine problems, meaning it had to be wheeled off the start line, giving Jackson a clear run to the first corner.
Jackson took full advantage and halfway around the opening lap the Airwaves drivers were running first and second. Giovanardi then made a slight error at the complex and, seeing his chance, Jackson darted up the inside and crossed the line in the lead, only to see the safety car being deployed following an earlier incident.
Jackson was not sure if the overtake was completed before he crossed the line so he dropped back behind his team-mate, but this was then reversed after the team checked with the race stewards.
On the restart Jackson got the hammer down and was able to establish a gap between himself and the rest of the field and then it was just about keeping his concentration and making it to the end of the race which he did, eventually crossing the line with a lead of over two-and-a-half seconds.
At the end of the day a delighted Jackson said: “What an absolutely fantastic day that was. The car has been absolutely superb all weekend, it has not missed a single beat.
“The team have also been fantastic and a huge thanks to them too. I don’t know what it is but we just really love Silverstone and again this weekend we have come away with a third a fourth and best of all another win.”
It was all good news for Jackson as he now lies fourth in the drivers’ standings and he will be looking forward to the season finale, which takes place at the team’s home Brands Hatch GP track on October 11/12.
Mat Jackson is all smiles on the top of the podium. Picture by Darren Price. (s)
Mat Jackson savours victory. Picture by Andy Parsons. (s)
Mat Jackson leads team-mate Fabrizio Giovanardi at Silverstone. Picture by Andy Parsons. (s)
BTCC leader Colin Turkington (left, third place), Mat Jackson (centre, first place) and Aron Smith (right, second place) made up the top three in the final race. Picture by Andy Parsons. (s)