Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher’s ‘huge confidence booster’
Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher heads to Thruxton this weekend in high spirits, following a trio of top ten results and an Independents’ race win last time out at Snetterton in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship.
The trip to Norfolk was a weekend of mixed emotions for the Motorbase-run squad, with Ollie Jackson collecting his maiden Indy victory, and a best-ever BTCC points haul as the second half of the season got underway. Sadly, it was a case of what might have been for his team-mate Tom Chilton, whose early potential was derailed by a puncture in race one.
Coming off the back of a successful two-day tyre test at on the Norfolk circuit, both Chilton and Jackson put their learnings to good use on Saturday, securing fourth and 12th spots respectively in the afternoon qualifying session.
Sunday’s opening race held much promise early on. Charging off the line, Chilton pulled off an outstanding switchback move on Sam Tordoff as the race leaders headed through the first corner, passing the Honda to steal third. Sitting in strong podium contention, a devastating puncture fired Chilton off track at high speed, ending his race after just five tours of the circuit.
Running on the prime-tyre for the weekend opener, Jackson was on career-best form at the Norfolk track. Scything the #48 Focus RS through the field, he made his way up through the order, holding off robust challenges to eventually cross the line in eighth.
A lightning start in race two saw Jackson take sixth by the first corner. Duelling with Tordoff as they raced down the straight, a bold lunge was rewarded with fifth. A challenge for the race lead on lap seven delivered the perfect opportunity for the Motorbase-man to strike, eventually taking a fourth place finish. Securing his best finish of the season so far, Jackson’s superb drive also netted him the Independents’ race win and his first podium of the year.
Chilton’s weekend looked to be on the up, with the 34-year-old making his attack straight off the start line. Working his way up into the mid-pack in the early laps, the #3 Focus looked set for a points finish and possible reversed grid draw spot before getting caught up in an on-track incident, which dropped him down the order. A commendable fight-back saw him eventually cross the line in 17th, having made up an impressive 12 places.
The final race of the weekend delivered plenty of drama with tyre strategies all coming into play for the final 12 lap challenge. Jackson led the way once more with an excellent defensive drive. His tenacity was repaid with a seventh place finish, ending the day with a third top-ten berth and confirming his best-ever BTCC weekend.
Racing in heavy traffic, Chilton did well to stay out of trouble and pushed hard in the closing laps. Showing his true class once more to break into the points-scoring zone, Chilton brought the #3 Ford home unscathed in 12th.
Although a mixed bag of results for the two drivers over the weekend, the Motorbase-run team has made huge strides forward with the Ford Focus RS machines and heads to Thruxton full of confidence ahead of the BTCC’s return.
“I’m absolutely thrilled for Ollie and his side of the garage,” said Team Manager Oly Collins. “He put in an outstanding performance and got the results he has been promising all season. Unfortunately, Tom’s day was pretty much over from lap five. He was so unlucky to get the puncture so early in the race. He was in such control and on for a guaranteed podium which would have set the tone for a great weekend and a decent haul of points. Unfortunately a result like that in race one spoils the whole weekend. There was absolutely nothing he could do.
“On the plus side we had pace all day and Ollie got his first Independents’ win – great teamwork from all involved and we go to Thruxton in a buoyant mood.
“The weekend started off great by qualifying fourth and then race one looked set to be a great race after moving up to third at turn one,” said Chilton. “I almost got Cammish for second, too. I had preserving the tyres in my mind at that point, to try to potentially get a second and then we got a slow puncture.
“So, from looking at a nice easy podium and being one of the fastest, to where we ended up was not what we wanted at all. A podium finish would have resulted in a totally different weekend for us. I would probably have been in the top five in the championship, but now we’ve dropped down to 10th and we have a big job ahead of us to close that gap now.
“Taking the positives away, our worst tyre was the hard and we were only two-tenths off the fastest time on the hard tyre in race three. I genuinely feel like we have one of the fastest cars on the grid, but definitely had the worst luck today. I’m gutted, but we’ve got three more rounds on the hard tyre, and our car is epic now so I’m excited about Thruxton.”
“It was a really successful weekend. The car was fantastic, and the team did an awesome job. I was delighted,” said Jackson. “It feels like a watershed weekend! There are still a few little bits of the puzzle that I still need to fill in, but I feel like now it’s rocking and rolling.
“I’ve finally managed to pull it all together to get us all the results that I’ve been threatening to get all year. All we need to do now is make that next step and to build from here and make that next step onto the podium. It’s definitely a huge confidence booster for me now heading to Thruxton in a couple of weeks.”