A Rockingham weekend highlighted by a double podium for Ulsterman Steven Kane kept the Airwaves BMW team at the top of the teams' championship in the British Touring Car Championship.
Through all three races Kane, who scooped the season's first HiQ Champagne Moment for his maiden BTCC win at Thruxton, benefitted from better luck than his more experienced teammate Mat Jackson, though the day began with Kane gaining the upper hand with the correct decision on tyres.
Jackson starting eleventh opted to start on wet tyres on a damp track, while Kane, starting one row ahead conversely chose four slick tyres on the grid after the installation laps. Initially it appeared as through Jackson, who already has 11 wins in the series, had made the right choice better traction allowing him to leap up six places by the time the field braked for the Deene hairpin.
However, with no more rain falling and the track drying quicker than expected Jackson soon had to peel off into the pitlane for the team to fit slick tyres, a move that dropped him outside the points positions to finish in 13th. Kane, on the other hand was able to steadily climb up the field, stealing fifth place from Paul O'Neill on the final lap.
With race one setting the starting grid for race two Jackson was presented with a challenge and Kane with an opportunity and he was quickly there to seize it, up to second after the first lap as the front row starting Hondas faltered though already a second-and-a-half adrift of leader Jason Plato. It was a gap Kane fought to close all race, a fight that cost him second place when he ran wide at Deene of the penultimate lap, letting Rob Collard get by.
Meanwhile Jackson was turning in a certain candidate for drive of the day. From 13th he gradually progressed up the order eventually ending the race in fourth, one place behind his teammate.
The duo were handed starts of sixth and seventh in the reverse grid for the final race – a scenario that could have presented them with the perfect opportunity to work though the field in tandem, securing another great finish for the team. However, the team's potential points haul for the race was soon halved as Jackson was taken out by Tom Chilton in a opening lap incident.
Kane was luckier, making it though the first lap contact, but not making such easy process through the field, remaining behind Andrew Jordan's Pirtek Racing Vectra for much of the race. Kane was all but stapled to Jordan's rear bumper, frequently pushing him through the track's slower corners. The constant pressure finally paid off on lap 15, Kane able to accelerate better out of Pif Paf passing Jordan down the inside for fourth position.
Less than a lap later fourth became third with Tom Onslow-Cole drifting wide at Deene handing Kane a second podium of the day, hauling himself up to third overall in the points standings. Jackson's troubled day saw him fall to sixth.
“An awesome weekend, my second podium of the day – I really couldn't ask for more,” said a rightfully joyful Kane after the races. “I gave it my all in every race, and I was a little unlucky in the first, but I want to thank the team because without them this wouldn't have happened. They have worked so hard that not one of them has even had a chance to eat today, that shows you how committed they are to winning the championship. If I can keep this up and not make any mistakes over the next few races I'll be right up there.”
“We leave Rockingham with mixed emotions,” admitted team manager Oliver Collins. “Both Mat and Steven drove brilliantly throughout the weekend. Steven got some good solid results, with another two podiums. Unfortunately Mat had his chances taken away from him through no fault of his own.”