Mat Jackson expects three hotly-contested Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at Rockingham, after qualifying on the front row of the grid for Sunday’s opener.
The Motorbase Performance man starts alongside pole-sitter Gordon Shedden after a frenetic qualifying session held in stormy conditions on Saturday, a place he later told TCF could help put him back in the championship picture.
“It puts us in a good place for the races”, Jackson told The Checkered Flag ahead of what is expected to be a much drier Sunday.
“Gordon looked like he got it hooked up in the rain. In the dry we looked like we were quite well up in the mix, but I think we were reasonably happy with how we went in those sessions. Obviously it’s completely different conditions at the moment and looks like it’s going to be dry today, so we’ll see what happens.
“We’ve had some good results and the car seems to be working very well. Hopefully we’ll get more points in the bag this weekend and be fighting for the championship again.”
Jackson enters Sunday’s trio of races 43 points adrift of championship leader, Sam Tordoff, the West Surrey Racing driver starting only 27th on the grid in a disappointing session for the BMW squad.
With his main rivals marred in the pack, Jackson said that it is important to take the opportunity to trim the points lead this weekend.
“Anything can happen. What we can’t afford is any more DNFs; we’ve had far too many of them this season, so we need to bag some good points. We can’t take ourselves out of the game.
“It’s good in one way because it would close us up, but also it means I’m around guys that I want to gain points on as well. The main thing is to keep clear of the BMWs and stay in contact with everybody else to keep the fight going.”
A winner at this circuit last season from pole position, Jackson expects his Honda rival to provide stiff competition in the day’s opening race, not counting out a charge from the rear-wheel drive Subarus of Jason Plato and Colin Turkington from fourth and fifth respectively.
“Rockingham is a funny place”, Jackson added. “Tyre degradation is going to be critical, so we need to see how we are compared to the others. After two or three laps, you start to see gaps in the pack.
“I raced Matt [Neal] and he didn’t seem to struggle in race three at Knockhill; I think Subaru are a bit of a dark horse and clearly eyes should be on what those guys are doing.”