Motorbase Performance head to their comeback Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship meeting “full of confidence” after lead driver Mat Jackson topped Thursday’s Dunlop tyre test at Snetterton.
The Kent squad, unable to participate in the opening half of the season due to budget restrictions, returned to the BTCC in style as the new EcoBoost Ford Focus ST topped the timesheets of the official group test, 20-time BTCC race winner Jackson the man heading the 24 drivers present in Norfolk.
Jackson was also one of several drivers to venture out onto the 300 circuit with Dunlop’s 2016-specification rubber during the seven hours of testing spent across Thursday, the 2008 BTCC runner-up’s best effort just 0.152s quicker than reigning champion, Colin Turkington.
“It felt brilliant to be back behind the wheel and back amongst our competitors”, said Jackson after topping Thursday’s test, elated to be back on the grid.
“It’s obviously fantastic to end the day top of the time sheets and that’s always the aim, but the most important thing is to come back next month knowing that we have a great race car. I can’t wait to get going again now; it’s been a long time coming!”
While Jackson focused on qualifying preparation, team-mate James Cole took the opposite approach for much of the day. The former Team HARD and United Autosports driver performed race simulations on his way to finishing 14th overall, as the Ford team racked up a reliable 135 laps between the two drivers.
Cole added: “It’s great to be back. We had a structured approach to the day and went through a lot of changes on the car. As is usual in testing, some worked and some didn’t.
“I did some race run simulations which will be valuable when we return here next month and will help both Mat and myself. Mat worked more on the one lap simulation and found a breakthrough towards the end of the day; unfortunately it was too late for me to try but we have the data now and we head to Snetterton in high spirits.”
Ahead of the next round held at the same circuit on 8/9 August, most impressed of all was Team Manager, Oly Collins, who added: “We’ve done some testing but we’ve not been directly up against any other BTCC competitors until today.
“It was a really important test for us today. We knew we had a good car but we really weren’t sure how much everyone else had moved on. We now head to our first race meeting of the year full of confidence.”