For the first time in the five season history in the British Touring Car Championship an Airwaves Racing driver leads the British Touring Car Chmapionship.
Two top-six finishes, including a fourth win of the season, have put lead man Mat Jackson eight points ahead of the chasing pack as the driver, team and championship cross the Scottish border for three races at the Fife track of Knockhill.
Team manager Oly Collins predicts a weekend that will benefit the normally aspirated cars, such as the Chevrolet Cruze. The short, undulating track too is not, in theory, one that will suit the Mountune engine Focuses, especially with Jackson forced to carry full ballast through qualifying and the first race. However, the team are confident of three consistent races and a good points haul to take into the final three weekends of the season.
Jackson said; “leading the championship heading into the final leg of the championship is great and is testament to how well the car and team are working, the only down side is that we have to carry the 45KG of success ballast that is attached to the championship lead which, when you look at the base weights of the cars, we are some 70kg heavier than the Cruze of Plato which is a huge difference especially around a circuit like Knockhill.”
“Am I surprised that we are where we are? Not in the slightest. I have full confidence in mine and the teams' ability and actually think we should be leading by even more points! For sure it will be a tough weekend due to ballast, we do struggle through the slower corners as we don't have any engine braking but all we can do is the best with what we have got.”
Jackson's teammate Liam Griffin too is confident ahead of weekend returning to the track where he took his first VW Cup win in 2009. After having his Snetterton meeting ended early by a first corner shunt in the final race.
To get the best out a potentially difficult weekend both Griffin and Jackson will need to improve on their qualifying form, though as Oly Collins says that's harder than it sounds, but unlike some of their rivals their focus – no pun intended – remains on race day.
“I know some teams take pride in ‘beating us at qualifying’ but those teams haven’t carried any success ballast into qualifying like we have been this year!” said Collins. “That said, we are still under performing on a Saturday and it's something we’re working hard to improve, however we will not compromise our focus in free practice sessions which is predominantly on getting a race day set up. We have always performed well on race day and that's no fluke. If you’re the best car/driver and team on Saturday you can get one point, on a Sunday you can get 51 points, we’re leading the Championship so I think the team is doing a great job!”
The qualifying session will be streamed online at itv.com from 3:05pm on September 3 with all three races the following day shown live on ITV4.