BTCCTouring Cars

BTCC Oulton Park Race 3: Jackson Ends On A High Note

3 Mins read

At the end of a difficult weekend Mat Jackson kept his title aspirations on track converting his reverse grid ople position into a win to close out the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship meeting at Oulton Park.

Jackson's race was a comfortable one. He was beaten off the line by fellow front row starter Nick Foster – once more putting the rediscovered starting prowess of the BMW to good use to hold a several car length lead into Old Hall for the first time.

The advantage – Foster's first in his rookie BTCC season – lasted only two corners. Jackson's Airwaves Racing car was back under the rear bumper of the West Surrey Racing car as they swung through Cascades and had retaken his place at the head of the field before the hairpin at Island and almost immediately started to pull clear.

Foster was falling back, and coming out the chicane an Knickerbrook had Paul O'Neill and Gordon Shedden challenging for second. O'Neill's run up Clay Hill allowed him to pull up on the outside of Foster on the approach to Druids, but the outside line put on the wet track protected by the overhang of the trackside trees. The purple car twitched back and forth under braking before spearing left across the track infront of Shedden, backing hard into the barriers.

The first lap also had James Nash in the barriers, making contact with Rob Collard on the trip up Clay Hill, pushing the Triple Eight driver in a terrifyingly fast spin and luckily only making glancing contact with the barriers on the left of the track. Unlike O'Neill Nash was able to continue, but falling to the back of grid meant that the championship lead he had gained after Collard's post race two penalty lasted only a matter of hours.

Jackson led comfortably from the restart, opting to drop away from the safety car to afford himself the space to accelerate up to racing speed early. The decision caught Foster unawares and so the WSR driver trailed by a second over the start line to receive to the green flag.

Gordon Shedden quickly moved past Foster on the first lap of green flag of racing, and teammate Matt Neal was also marching forward, one of several drivers to stream past Rob Austin – who had run as high a seventh after the opening lap – before passing Jason Plato around the outside of the first corner. The move almost certainly did nothing to change Plato's opinions on parity between the different specifications.

Neal's progress came to a momentary halt behind the West Surrey Racing pair, dicing between the BMWs at the Island hairpin only for Foster to force him wide and create a hole for Collard to re-pass the Honda, but a mistake by the touting car veteran the following lap Old Hall gave Neal an easy chance to pass, dropping Collard and Foster back towards Plato, the two Special Tuning SEATs and the two Team Aon Fords.

Plato made a move down the inside of Lodge corner to try and pass Collard, and the front of the Silverline Chevrolet was far enough up alongside the BMW to render the pass unpreventable on Collard's part. Still, one of the more aggressive drivers in the paddock, Collard attempted to belatedly close the door, making contact with the front of the Chevrolet, the rear-wheel drive car helplessly pivoting infront of Plato.

Pinned together both cars ran onto the grass on drivers' right, Plato recovering – with front bodywork into tenth place, though Jeff Smith would push the reigning champion back to eleventh.

Foster would inherit the lead of the pack after the incident, though with the conditions no longer helping as they had done earlier in the day he would finish ninth, having been passed by both SEATs and Fords.

The main battle of the closing laps was for the final step on the podium, Matt Neal having caught Andrew Jordan. A poor run out of Old Hall allowed Neal alongside through Cascades to initiate a drag race towards the hairpin which the Swindon Engine propelled Vectra won comfortably.

Neal final assault came at the chicane two laps from the end. He suckered Jordan into defending out wide, slinging the Civic into the inside line for Knickerbrook. Neal outbraked Jordan, but he also outbraked himself, and both drivers opted for the grass, unable to make the chicane. Jordan, who took a far straighter line through the grass, maintained third place, and kept the position to the checkered flag.

Tom Boardman finished fifth – reward for another hard weekend for his Special Tuning squad, leading hom Andy Neate, Tom Chilton and Dave Newsham. Jeff Smith finished tenth, the damaged Jason Plato unable to take points from the race in eleventh.

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