Mat Jackson left Donington Park in an upbeat manner following his return towards the sharp end during the second British Touring Car Championship meeting, stating the Motorbase Ford Focus squad have a ‘clear direction’ of their progress heading to Thruxton.
Jackson qualified down in 14th for Sunday’s opening race at the Leicester circuit, a position he stayed for the damp first encounter by the flag before a significant improvement later that afternoon saw him charge through to seventh place in a safety car-riddled second race.
The 2008 runner-up then confirmed Motorbase Performance’s improvements in the dry final race of the day, fighting his way up to fourth by the time an initial safety car delay was enforced, battling with the works MG and Honda drivers. Jackson was surpassed by the Honda Civic Tourers of Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal by the flag, but held on for a comfortable fourth place result to give the Ford driver a sense of rejuvenation for Thruxton on 3/4 May.
“Race one was very, very hard”, said Jackson. “We struggled for pace in the car but we sat down and went through the data and pulled out the good points and moved the car forward for race two. The guys worked hard in the short break to get the car turned around and to come away P7 in the wet is another great result.
“There is a vision now on where we need to go to get more pace and it’s a nice position to be in. We’re painting a picture and its getting bigger. Race three was a great result, to be racing alongside the factory Hondas and MG’s is mega and it’s where we should, and deserve to be.
“There’s a clear direction on where we’re going and the results from this weekend show that. I feel a lot more comfortable in the car and hopefully we can go to Thruxton and continue the good form.”
Team-mate Fabrizio Giovanardi enjoyed a stronger weekend than the first chapter of his BTCC comeback at Brands Hatch in March, backing up his team-mate’s performance with a surge up to seventh from 11th on the grid in race one at Donington, before following the result with a pair of 12th place finishes.
Heading to a Thruxton circuit he has previously claimed seven victories at, the Italian said: “I had a good start to the weekend; not a bad qualifying and a good first race, after that I’ve jumped into hell and I don’t know why!
“The main thing that is making me crazy is not understanding what has changed, but we will work to find out why we struggled in race two and three. It’s a positive that Mat did a good job today, so we have got a good way to follow for Thruxton.”