Redstone Racing are hoping to get their Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season back on track at Snetterton this week.
After a strong start to the season saw Mat Jackson take two on-track victories at the second round at Donington – though one was taken away from him post-race – the team have suffered a variety of problems and this, coupled with the constant development of their NGTC rivals, has seen them slip down the championship standings.
Now they are aiming for a repeat of last season's performance, where Jackson won the final race after two top six finishes. ‘Motorsport Ireland’s Young Driver of the Year’ Aron Smith shoulders the rest of the team's hopes for a strong points haul as Liam Griffin takes a short sabbatical from the Championship.
Jackson said: “Overall we’ve had a good first half of the season, the car has been competitive and we’ve been up there challenging for the lead at each round. Unfortunately, our results have been marred by a mixture of mistakes on my part, impact from other drivers and engine issues so our position in the standings doesn’t really reflect on how competitive the car is.
“We’ve had some good testing during the break, as have the NGTC cars, and things will have moved on for everyone since the last round but we still expect to be challenging for the lead as we have been. We had a good weekend’s racing here last year and the car has massively improved since then so hopefully we can look forward to a repeat performance!”
Meanwhile theCheckeredFlag.co.uk blogger Smith is eager to back on track after the long summer break.
“With such a long gap since Croft, it feels like the start of the season once again!” he said. “Although, to be fair, it has given me chance to have a bit of a break and refocus on what we need to achieve. Realistically I’d like to start the weekend off in the top ten and see where we can get to from there.
“I had one of my best races ever in the Clio Cup here last year and managed to get some pre-season testing in so hopefully that’ll stand me in good stead for the weekend. I’m dying to get back out on track!”
The team spent time trying to improve tyre degradation – something which their bigger-tyred NGTC rivals previously held an advantage over. Team Manager Oly Collins believes they have moved in the right direction, and that a strong result is well within reach.
“A very difficult Croft weekend seems an age away now,” he explained. “We’ve had our summer break from BTCC racing which has been extremely busy with further developments to the S2000 Focus.
“We’ve been out testing and are confident we have made some improvements, how much of an improvement we’ve made will probably be proven this weekend. We do expect a tough Snetterton as its much better suited to the larger tyres & brakes on the NGTC cars but we’ll still be going out for some solid results.
“We’re still in a strong position in the Independents’ Championships and there’s still 15 races remaining so who knows!”
Griffin will miss the race due to “unavoidable work and family commitments” but is aiming to return to the track before the end of the season – so the final Ford Focus ST could be unoccupied for the next few rounds.