Motorbase drivers Mat Jackson and Aron Smith are already looking at testing improvements during the lengthy summer break before the BTCC season resumes at Snetterton in August after another tough round at Croft last weekend.
The Kent-based team were hampered by dramas throughout the latest weekend, the unpredictable and later inclement weather conditions fuelling the situation further somewhat, although Irishman Smith brought home points in each of the three races to move up to sixth in the Independents championship as a result.
Smith said: “To score points in all three races is the main objective so it’s good to come away with three point finishes. We worked on a lot of data this weekend, trying to find that elusive sweet spot on the car and I think that if the rain hadn’t have come in race 3 we were nearly there in the dry. But the rain threw a new spanner in the works and we had to learn how it ran in the wet.
Smith, lying 11th in the overall standings heading into the summer break, added that the team are looking towards a crucial test coming up, saying: “Now that we have a six week gap and also a two day test at Snetterton coming up; I think that will be the turning point for our season and will help to underline all the work that we’ve done so far this season and hopefully put us back at the sharp end where we belong.”
His team-mate Jackson – a former winner at Croft – did not have fond memories of his most recent visit to North Yorkshire, his weekend littered with misfortune following an almighty moment in Sunday’s first race when he lost control of the Airwaves Ford and collected the tyre barrier on the exit of Clervaux, a shattered window and more severe suspension damage which also ruined his second race the consequence.
The final race of the day was no better, finishing 13th in the sodden conditions not to his liking after also suffering a collision with Dan Welch alongt the way, Jackson saying afterwards: “After the pace that the car showed at Oulton Park we came to Croft thinking that this was going to be our weekend; but unfortunately some of my fellow competitors had a different idea. I took two hits in the rear in two races on each corner which hampered my progress.
“Race three was probably the most difficult conditions I’ve seen in a while in the BTCC and I believe that the wet weather really was border-line whether we should have run the race; but it went ahead and I scored some points- so the weekend wasn’t a total washout. Roll on Snetterton!”
The team’s gloating point was in fact to come from their third driver, Michael Caine, the reigning British GT champion starring on his one-off appearance as he battled from 15th on the grid to an excellent eighth in the weekend’s opening race, carving his way through traffic – including a crowd-pleasing double overtake at Hawthorn – before disposing of Tom Onslow-Cole on the final lap to secure the team’s best result of the meeting.
A wet tyre gamble didn’t pay off in race two however, but the 43-year-old was happy with his showing, saying: ““It was brilliant to get the chance to come and race in the BTCC again and I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity. I’d obviously love that opportunity to try and win a race for the Motorbase team, but whether it does or doesn’t happen, from what we learnt this weekend; it’s a step in the right direction.
“Personally it would be a shame if I never got the opportunity to race it again, but I hope that everybody looks at it and goes; well he’s a 43 year old car salesman from Newmarket and he didn’t do a bad job!”