Mat Jackson joins the 250 club
Airwaves Racing’s Mat Jackson contested his 250th Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race last weekend and then nearly kicked off his next 250 with a landmark victory!
Jackson’s BTCC bow came way back in 2001 when he drove a Production Class Ford Focus, finishing fourth in class with one victory during the season. A five-year hiatus included winning the SEAT Cupra Championship in 2006, before his BTCC return the following season.
“We didn’t think we’d make two races, never mind 250!” recalls Mat. “It really started in 2007 when we brought the BMW into the series – it was Andy Priaulx’s reigning WTCC winning car and it was the first time someone had brought a BMW into the BTCC for some years.
“We started off as a family team and it rolled on from there. We got three races in and had no money, but we picked up a sponsor and they carried us through that season. We’ve gone on to have some great successes – 19 wins and I was runner-up in the championship in 2008.”
Although Jackson’s BTCC history dates back a number of years people often forget how challenging it is just to reach Britain’s premier series in the first place.
“We did a lot of one make stuff and I tried my hand at single-seaters, but it didn’t go too well,” said Mat. “I put the car in the barriers and we realised it was quite expensive so we went down the saloon route instead! We did a year in Clios and then we tried the Fiesta Winter Series, which Colin Turkington was doing at the time, and then into the BTCC in 2001. It wasn’t for another five years that we really got our break though.”
As Mat mentioned, he has since gone on to win 19 races and finished as runner-up in the championship back in 2008, but it’s the memory of his first BTCC win that the 33-year-old remembers most fondly.
“I’ll never forget it,” enthused Jackson. “It was race three at Oulton Park and Jason Plato pushed us all the way but I wasn’t going to let him win. I’d actually tested for SEAT three times to try and get the drive alongside Jason as his team-mate but ultimately didn’t get the drive, so when I saw that SEAT in P2 I wasn’t going to let him through!”
Incredibly Mat’s 251st contest saw him narrowly miss out on his 20th victory as he pushed former Motorbase team-mate Aron Smith all the way home at Snetterton. Jackson looked to have the quicker package overall, but the VW was fast where it needed to be, and the Englishman had to settle for second at the finish.
Despite some unfortunately moments in the early stages of the season Jackson is lying sixth in the championship overall. He has finished inside the top ten for the last 14 races and his Motorbase team boss David Bartrum thinks his performances deserve more recognition.
“I always intended to have Mat in the team this season,” said Batrum. “I just wanted him to be hungry and he’s done a great job this year. I don’t think Mat gets the credit for what he’s done so far to be honest.
“Mat’s been great for our team – he’s done a lot of his 250 races with Motorbase and I hope there’s lots more to come.”
Despite missing out on the championship shake-up over the last two seasons there’s no doubting what Jackson is targeting – more races, more wins and hopefully a championship along the way…
“It’s a great championship to be a part of,” he concludes. “We’ve always got to aim for the top – we’re here to win and that will never change.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Peter Still