In the build-up to this week's return to racing at Snetterton Airwaves Racing have declared themselves “very disappointed” as the latest restrictions to the turbocharged cars comes in for the sixth meeting of the 2011 season.
Airwaves' pair of Ford Focus ST cars – as well as the rest of the field using the new NGTC-spec units will face a further 0.05 bar decrease in boost pressure for the weekend, the previously suspended sanction being applied by series organisers TOCA.
“We're of course, very disappointed that the deferred boost limit has been brought in for Snetterton,” said team manager Oly Collins. “At Croft, with the exception Mat Jackson who drove a near on qualifying lap for the whole of race 3, the BMW’s had the measure of everyone by some margin, the three of them, despite Mat holding them back for the whole race, finished over ten seconds ahead of anyone else. No car has an advantage like that at any circuit especially one which is past its best in terms of development.”
“We also saw the [normally aspirated] Chevrolet on pole, although they did suffer some terrible luck, I think would have been more than a match for the turbo cars in dry conditions. Most teams have been out testing trying to go quicker both pre-season and mid-season but none of the Chevrolets or BMW’s have done any testing mid-season and have had an extremely short pre-season test programme by everyone else's standards, yet they are still complaining their cars are not as fast as those that are developing. I don’t think it's the turbo that's the problem; I think it's the approach of those teams.”
That sentiment is echoed by driver Mat Jackson, who lies second overall in the points standings.
“We have embraced the new engine regulations,” said Jackson, who has three race wins so far this season. “These rules and regulations were open to each and every team in the championship, there has been a huge amount of investment by all NGTC teams that have embraced the engine change if we look at the facts none of the S2000 engine teams have done any pre-season testing nor have they done any testing during the six week break so really is it any wonder that they are struggling for pace?”
“It is a shame that we get penalised for doing the job properly!”
The team are hoping that development to both chassis and engine over the break after Croft will help in the face of the restrictions, but Jackson is expecting both the Chevrolet and BMW squads to contend for the win.
This weekend will be the first time the series had raced at Snetterton since an extensive revamp of the Norfolk track over the winter, the venue now boasting a three mile layout that makes it the longest track on the BTCC calendar.
The team have previously tested at the track at the start of the season, ending the running second fastest perhaps crucially behind Honda, for whom Matt Neal, who leads the points, drives.
Driver Liam Griffin: “I can’t wait to get back in the car for a race weekend and having spent a few days at the new Snetterton 300 it has really started to grow on me after initially being a little disappointed with the changes. Whilst I am still unsure of the new Coram the new infield is technical yet rewarding and I think adds a couple of overtaking chances that it perhaps lacked before.”