Airwaves Racing admit that confidence it at a premium heading into the eighth meeting of the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Rockingham, a place that the squad shone at in the murkiness last season.
The team come off the back of a tough round at Knockhill that saw two top 10 finishes for Mat Jackson as their highlights in Scotland, but feel that Rockingham’s twist 1.94 mile layout and its high-speed sweeps will suit the Ford Focus just as finely so as Snetterton – where they bagged three podium finishes.
The Rockingham 2012 visit brings back very prestigious memories in particular for Aron Smith, who led a BTCC race for the very first time during the final race in Northamtonshire last year – something he intends to be doing so once again 12 months on.
“After leading my first ever BTCC race at Rockingham last season I’m certainly returning with fond memories!” enthused the Irishman.
“Rockingham is more of a conventional racing circuit as opposed to Knockhill which I know will suit our car down to the ground. We saw how strong the car could be at Snetterton which as a circuit isn’t too dissimilar from Rockingham, so hopefully we’ll be back fighting at the sharp end this weekend.”
The new NGTC Ford Focus already has vital race weekend experience at Rockingham from last season, and should the pace displayed from 2012 repeat itself then signs point to a strong weekend for the Kent squad. Jackson claimed a pair of fourth place finishes set in a dry race one and sodden second encounter, a trio of top six finishes not forgotten by Jackson himself who feels that the visit to Rockingham could be a positive one for Airwaves.
The 2008 runner-up said: “Rockingham should suit the Ford Focus NGTC chassis much better this weekend. With the faster corners, we should be back challenging for podium positions again.
“The car proved to be quick at the Northamptonshire track – and we are hoping to improve on the pace that we showed there last year.”
Optimism is not short throughout the squad for Rockingham, Team Manager Oly Collins saying: “We’re going to Rockingham in a confident mood. We have some good data from last year to complement what we’ve learnt throughout this season. Both Mat and Aron have shown some great pace recently, at Snetterton in particular, and we expect the Focus to be strong this weekend.”
The team also have the addition this weekend of Tom Onslow-Cole to their line-up for the final three rounds of the current season, the three-time podium finisher with Team HARD bolstering the Airwaves Racing team’s prospects for the weekend.
The squad’s final driver, Liam Griffin, lies four wins behind Jack Sears Trophy rival Lea Wood in the S2000 category, but is determined to continue the fight, saying: “I’ve not raced at Rockingham for a couple of years but the S2000 Focus is not bad round there and I know I need to win at least one race this weekend to keep the Jack Sears Trophy title fight alive!”
Griffin is being spurred on by a newest addition to the family, quipping: “Following the birth of my 3rd son I feel like I need to win all three races this weekend so he doesn’t feel left out!”