Mat Jackson led the Independents' title chasing Airwaves Racing during Saturday's running at Silverstone, setting the pace during the second practice session before qualifying second for the first British Touring Car race of the final weekend.
Jackson could easily have scored a first pole position of the season, but Matt Neal pipped him in the last five minutes of the session. Yellow flags for an incident at Copse meant Jackson was unable to truly attempt to take the place back.
“It's a great result for the Airwaves Racing team,” said Jackson. “My last pole was here back in 2009 so it felt good to be back challenging for the lead again. All credit to the Motorbase boys, they've done a great job again and the car has been fast off the blocks all weekend.”
“I'm not going to lie, I'm disappointed that we missed out on the pole, especially in the closing minutes, but we've put ourselves in the strongest position to attack the lead in tomorrow's first race and hopefully we'll be celebrating come the end!”
Jackson's regular teammate – Liam Griffin – continued to show improved pace in the closing rounds of the year, qualifying eighteenth fastest of the 29 cars that set a time. His time (1:00.216) put him less than a tenth of a second behind double BTCC champion James Thompson, who has been drafted in by David Bartrum's team to help with their title challenges on both the team and individual front – with Jackson.
After only testing turbocharged Ford Focus ST a week earlier Thompson set consistent times during the day as he familiarised himself with the car's characteristics. He qualified fifteenth, despite having his best time disallowed for a yellow flag infringement.
“Obviously I would have loved to have been further up the grid,” said Thompson who has previously driven for both Vauxhall and Honda works teams, “but it's never easy stepping straight into a new car and set up. The Airwaves team have done a great job this weekend and in an ideal world we would have had more time in the car to settle in.”
“I'm really looking forward to tomorrow, it's nice to come back and be involved in the BTCC again and what better weekend than the season finale at Silverstone?”