Jackson and Cole ready to rumble
The Motorbase Performance pairing of Mat Jackson and James Cole are ready for action after both enjoyed a full day of testing at Brands Hatch last week.
The race-winning team has been forced to sit on the sidelines for the first part of the season as it searches for new sponsors and commercial partners, but the effort behind the scenes has never wavered. With the Kent outfit looking to rejoin the series at Snetterton in August it’s keen to ensure its pair of Ford Focuses are ready to hit the ground running.
“It was massively frustrating at the start of the season but everyone is working extremely hard to get this programme up and running,” said Jackson. “We need to be on the grid – it’s not fun for us watching the other cars pound round so we want to get back in and join the fight.
“There has been some great racing already this season, which just goes to show how good the BTCC is, but we deserve to be out there banging doorhandles with the top guys. We know we’ve got a great car and with all the variables on the grid this year it makes us even more determined to get out there and rough some of them up!”
Similarly team-mate Cole is equally optimistic about the bigger picture despite recognising the obvious frustrations faced by him and the squad, “It has been hard to not to sulk while watching the season so far but if this helps us to come back stronger in the long-run then it’ll all be worth it,” he said. “We hope to come into the season with a bang and there’s no reason why we can’t go well at Snetterton.”
The Southport-based Cole had his first taste of the team’s new EcoBoost engine at the 1.2-mile Indy Circuit and is buoyed by its performance.
“It was a really good test – the first day I’ve been able to drive the car in anger,” he continued. “Just to be back in a race car again has been fantastic.
I am very encouraged by the car’s capabilities and how quickly I’ve been able to adapt to it.
“I’ve won championships in the past but that counts for nothing in the BTCC. I’ve been in the championship for a year and a half now but I don’t feel like I’ve had the right package yet – I’m confident that I now have that.”
The experienced Jackson knows a thing or two about BTCC race-winning machinery and also NGTC race-winning machinery, having scored a number of victories in his tin-top career so far, and he also feels the team should be ready to fight at the front come August.
“The team has put so much effort into the car over the winter, particularly in the new EcoBoost engine, which is proving to be really strong,” he enthused. “The engine has a different characteristic to the previous one – we always used to struggle low down but we were really strong at the top end. This EcoBoost engine is a lot stronger throughout the range and has more consistency. That together with the chassis that we’ve worked on for the last three years, I really feel we have a very strong package.
“We looked at the times from the guys during qualifying at the start of the season and used that as a benchmark. We’ve taken a lot away from the test and things look positive in terms of our performance – we’re right in the mix and we need to be chasing wins.”
Despite Jackson’s optimism he also admits that the BTCC remains as difficult as ever to try and win.
“My view is that the BTCC is the toughest touring car championship in the world – nothing else comes close,” concluded Mat. “Obviously the rules are there to try and make it as equal as possible for everyone but it’s still the same guys at the front yet again and that’s no coincidence.
“We can go in with the handbrake off as we won’t be in a championship fight but I expect to be racing against the same top quality drivers who are always in contention. Competing in the BTCC is one thing but only the very best are there contesting the championship at the end of the season.”
Listen to our BTCC Radio team talk to David Bartrum, James Cole and Mat Jackson following the test:
PHOTO CREDIT: PSP IMAGES