The Croft weekend for Airwaves BMW saw driver Mat Jackson make his 100th BTCC start, however, it was his Northern Irish teammate Steven Kane that took all the headlines for the team, closing the day with a tremendous performance fighting from 19th on the grid to finish third and continue his run of collecting at least one podium finish at every weekend this season.
Jackson was not so lucky, his first century of starts only ending in the disappointment of a ninth place finish. He looked certain of a better finish working his way up from his 12th place start with the same sort of purpose that saw him move from 15th to second at the track in 2008, however, his run was to be dented by an ill-timed move at Cleraux by Andrew Jordan, the resulting contact losing Jackson time and places, the early promise going unfulfilled.
Race two was even worse for the team, though once more both drivers began strongly improving on their grid positions – ninth and 11th – decided by the finishing order of race one.
Leading the charge Jackson passed Tom Onslow-Cole, debutant Daniel Lloyd and James Nash at different points around the track to make it up to sixth place. However, suspension failure struck the no.5 BMW forcing him into early retirement. Kane also made it sixth, making the pass on Tom Boardman's SEAT shortly before the car crawled to a halt, a stone having gone through the car's radiator, the team's pair of DNFs setting up their race three comeback.
From 19th and 21st on the grid Kane and Jackson, yet again on a weekend where the team always seemed to be staging a fight back from something, began charging their way up the field.
The pair progressed almost in tandem catching and then fighting their way through several groups of drivers who were battling ahead (and then behind) the Motorbase pair. Kane eventually broke away from his teammate in the final laps passing Paul O'Neill and Tom Boardman to take third as the team watched his superlative performance in silence around the big screens.
Kane's drive arguably stole the headlines not only from winner Andrew Jordan but from Jackson whose drive to seventh would have been a highlight of most other races.
“Mega, what can I say? The whole team really came through and kicked up a gear and I have to give them a lot of credit, I had a fantastic race car for race 2 and 3 today and there was a real chance of a fourth place finish if only the radiator had held on,” Kane said. “It's a great feeling to get another podium and once we solved a few qualifying niggles there's a lot more to come from me and the car.”
In one race the team's entire weekend had changed, the 14 points their two drivers accumulated keeping very much in the teams' title fight in second place behind the Honda Racing Team effort. Kane and Jackson begin the summer break in second and fourth respectively in the Independent's drivers' championship race.
“It was a great last race and if I hadn't made a silly mistake and gone in a little hot I would have been on the podium too,” claimed Jackson. “This is my 100th BTCC start and apart from making me feel old I enjoyed it just like the first! My mistake cost me today and I was unlucky to have to retire in race 2, but the last race today helped. If we can place higher in qualifying then it makes the whole job a lot easier, especially when you're driving a great race car like this”
Motorbase Performance Airwaves BMW and the BTCC return to action after their summer break at Snetterton on August 8.