After the return to the highs at the penultimate round at Brands Hatch Airwaves Racing suffered another disappointing meeting in the BTCC season finale at Silverstone.
The Kent based team had drafted in former champion James Thompson for the weekend in an effort to take teams' titles in both the overall and independents' categories, as well as supporting lead driver Mat Jackson in his quest for drivers' titles.
While Thompson struggled to achieve the pace to truly aid Jackson, the Henley-in-Arden based driver got his weekend off to an almost perfect start when he claimed second on the grid in qualifying, putting the Ford Focus ST between the works Hondas.
Jackson's bid for the independents' looked on course throughout much of the first race, but a puncture caused by hitting the Copse kerb too hard dropped the Airwaves driver out of contention – though he had already claimed the overall fastest lap of the race. Instead, Vauxhall driver James Nash, who inherited a podium spot after Jackson's delay was able to clinch the Independents' drivers title. The puncture dropped Jackson down the starting order for the second race, triggering what Jackson called “a dogfight” for the rest for the day
Jackson's race two followed a similar pattern to his first. This time early contact damaged the front of the no.7 Focus, dooming Jackson to a succession of pitstops during the race, though he showed his pace again, nabbing the bonus point for fastest lap once more.
The second race of the weekend also saw the Independents teams' title slip out Airwaves' range, when Liam Griffin fell behind James Nash's Triple Eight teammate Ollie Jackson in the closing laps.
Generally, after the improvement yielded by a change in driving style before the previous round, Griffin rounded out his maiden BTCC campaign with a consistent race day, achieving the unlikely accolade – driving alongside Jackson and Thompson -of being the best placed of the Airwaves trio in all three races.
Griffin said; “It was great to finish on what was probably my best weekend of the season; better for the results to come late than never! I've finished the last ten races with consistent results, gained in confidence and car control which has built up over the last three weekends and shown in the results.”
“I've thoroughly enjoyed my first season in the BTCC. The Motorbase team have been amazing to work with and I've learnt a huge amount from them and Mat [Jackson] and ended the season a better driver than when I started! Also, it's quite nice to be able to say that I beat a twice-crowned BTCC champion in all three races!”
In race three Triple Eight and Airwaves Racing were again in battle, Jackson and Nash tussleing through Brooklands and Luffield, the pair exchanging taps to pass each other. Nash's contact was much the heavier, pushing Jackson wide, but being given a drive-through penalty. Jackson was initially able to continue but damage to the front of the car forced him to make another pitstop during a race.
“We're obviously gutted to have come away without a trophy this weekend,” said Jackson. “But the season just hasn't gone our way since Knockhill. To finish in fourth place overall, narrowly missing out on the Independent title, and to be the top placed Ford after moving to a completely new car this season is still a huge achievement though, and one to be proud of.”
“This weekend was not the way we planned to end the season,” summarised team manager Oly Collins. “We threw our all at it, unfortunately it was in vain and the day ended on a rather low note for what has been a successful season. Great thanks to all involved at Airwaves Racing and Motorbase; from the staff, sponsors, drivers, supporters and everyone involved in the team for all their efforts this year. Unfortunately we didn't get the result that we deserved.”