Donington exceeded expectations for Airwaves BMW, the course of three dramatic races around the re-opened track turning a disappointing qualifying into a weekend where drivers Steven Kane and Mat Jackson both scored points in every race.
Jackson started the day's first race from eleventh, while Kane was at the very back of the grid after mechanical problems kept him out of qualifying but both drivers were able to make progress on the opening lap. Jackson came through ninth at the expense of Alex MacDowall and Tom Boardman and Kane gained eight spots as he carved through the lower reaches of the grid.
Luck was clearly shining on the Motorbase Performance run cars, Kane escaping unscathed from an incident with Paul O'Neill and Tom Boardman that caused the safety car to scramble to allow marshalls to recover O'Neill's stranded Honda Integra.
Even more amazing was that both drivers survived the lap after the safety car unleashed the field again. Shuffling at the head of the race, and a bump from Jason Plato in the braking zone for the chicane sent Matt Neal wide into the foam blocks at the apex of the second element.
Ahead of Jackson cars, foam blocks and gravel scattered – Tom Onslow-Cole cut to the inside, sending more blocks into the track, Plato was cannoned into the gravel and was joined by Andrew Jordan, who arrived at the chicane just ahead of Jackson who found the road blocked by foam and Rob Collard.
Inadvertently, as he headed for retirement, Jordan cleared the way for Jackson, who emerged in third once the field had reconvened behind the safety car. Kane – a safe distance behind the chaos – also picked up places to eighth, improving to sixth in the two laps of racing once the lengthy clean-up was complete. The Ulsterman, seemingly not satisfied with overtaking 15 cars during the race claimed he could have taken fourth were it not for the tangle with O'Neill earlier in the race.
After the first race, and all the drama it brought the fans and success it brought the Airwaves team the second and third races were all about maintaining the positions in the top ten to add to their points tally.
Race two was a quiet affair for the team – Jackson finishing fifth, one place ahead of his teammate as both Airwaves cars beat the BMW of Rob Collard across the line in a last lap battle, Kane out-dragging the West Surrey Racing BMW on the home straight after Jackson had out-muscled him through the chicane.
In the final race Kane spent much of the race in a battle for the podium, briefly claiming third from Plato before the championship leader demoted him back to fourth where he would finish. Jackson, however, would suffer the teams' only mishap of the day, running wide at Coppice on lap nine, dropping from fourth to tenth. He was able to pick up two places in the remaining laps to finish eighth.
“I'm chuffed and I think today was a real positive,” enthused Jackson. “Shame about the last race, that was my fault as I took the kerb too hard, then bounced off Jordan and ended up in the gravel. Other than that the car was quick and we had the pace again.”
“Qualifying was frustrating for me and we still need more pace on the Saturday but I'm confident going into Brands Hatch. It's hard on tyres, especially on the front wheel drive cars so we have a good chance of doing well.”
Having feared a poor qualifying could effectively end his chances of taking the Independents' Drivers' title from Tom Onslow-Cole Kane actually gained four points on the Ford driver to sit 18 points behind with only the races on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit left in the season.
“It was good all in all. Both cars performed well and the team worked tremendously to kick up a gear after our troubled Saturday,” said team manager, Oliver Collins. “Brands is our home track and that's where we hope to clinch the Independent title, so on reflection it's been a positive weekend for all of us.”