Mat Jackson, one of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship’s top talents, has returned to the track for the second half of the year and made quite an impression at Knockhill last time out.
The Motorbase Performance squad showed flashes of pace in its first appearance at Snetterton in early August, and the 34-year-old made steady progress on race day culminating in a top six finish in the final encounter. It was a sign of things to come, as the mountune-powered machine was immediately at the sharp end when the paddock moved to Scotland.
Third in FP1 and fourth in FP2, the #4 car was well set for qualifying, and with no success ballast on board Jackson looked to be on course for pole position until in the final moments he was demoted to third.
Making a great start from the second row, the white Ford Focus blasted into the lead on the very first lap with a bold move up the inside into the final hairpin. With Jackson having built up a 2.7s lead a safety car deployment closed the field right up again, and despite an outstanding defensive drive he eventually had to relinquish the position – crossing the line in P2 to claim his first podium of the season.
Having set the fastest lap during the opening race, it was pole position for Mat in race two. However, with 66kg of ballast on-board, the #4 Focus came under immediate pressure from the charging Honda Yuasa Racing Civic Type R of Gordon Shedden. Jackson managed to hold off the lighter Honda for five closely fought laps before eventually dropping back into second place. A late move from Collard put the Motorbase car into third, but it was still a well-earned second podium of the day.
A top ten finish in the final race made the Henley-based racer overall top scorer for the weekend and double independent winner. It’s enough to put Jackson 15th in the standings, and with nine more races to go, expect him to be right up there at Rockingham, Silverstone and Brands Hatch.
After the final chequered flag had fallen, Mat commented: “To come away from this weekend with two podiums is fantastic and a great result for the team. It was frustrating to have lost out on pole in qualifying but I think we’ve shown that we can mix it at the front now and that we’re on the pace.
“It’s been such a big learning curve for us and after being out of it for six months we’re really pleased. We need to sit down and look at the data ahead of Rockingham and see where we can improve. We’ve made a big step forward this weekend from Snetterton and hopefully we can do it again.”