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Jun 09, 2014 - 07:01 AM
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Airwaves Racing Makes Ground At Oulton Park
Posted by: newsla on Jun 09, 2014 - 06:55 AM
Sports Cars
Airwaves Racing Makes Ground At Oulton Park


Changeable weather conditions threw up a wild card of results for Airwaves Racing during round 4 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) at Cheshire’s Oulton Park circuit this weekend, June 8/9.

 

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An interrupted qualifying session on a soaked track on Saturday afternoon upset the initial running order of the BTCC grid with the session red flagged twice. Mat Jackson benefitted from the second run to secure P7 in the #6 Ford Focus ST with Fabrizio Giovanardi missing out on the opportunity of a flying lap following the second red flag, ending the session in P12.

In contrast to Saturday’s difficult conditions, race day started dry as the picturesque circuit basked in glorious sunshine, much to the delight of the huge crowd of trackside spectators. A non-eventful opening race delivered unchanged results for the majority of the grid with Mat finishing as he started in P7 whilst Fabrizio managed to move past Hynes’ MG to take P11.

Sunday’s second race was a landmark occasion for the Motorbase Performance squad, with the Kent-based team celebrating its 250th appearance in the BTCC. To mark this significant milestone, team boss David Bartrum was presented with a specially commissioned commemorative shirt and cake by Motorbase drivers past and present with the full complement of Airwaves and Crabbie’s Racing BTCC squad also in attendance.

Race 2 looked likely to follow a similar path to the weekend opener for the Airwaves Racing duo before a rash lunge from Alain Menu wiped Fabrizio off the track and into a spin as they headed into the second chicane on the fifth lap. The Italian did well to avoid the oncoming pack and managed to re-join the race way back in the pack, with significant damage to the #7 Focus. Mat fared better after claiming back his spot lost to Foster on the opening lap before taking P6 from Tordoff as they headed towards the start finish line on the final lap.

The reversed grid placed Mat in P3 for the final race of the day just as the heaven’s opened and the track was flooded with torrential rain. As the cars lined up for the start of the race, the sodden track started to show signs of drying but all but one of the cars lined up on the grid stuck with running on wet tyres.

Mat made another of his famous lightening starts off the line moving straight past Ingram to steal second before challenging race leader Aron Smith as they charged through the opening lap. An early safety car appearance allowed the pack to bunch up once more and Mat looked set to mount a strong challenge on the lead once more before an uncharacteristic mistake from the Airwaves driver resulted in the #6 Focus head into a huge sideways slide off the track. Mat managed to salvage the car avoiding damage along the way; unfortunately the resulting action saw him re-join the race in P14.

Fabrizio had an outstanding final race of the weekend, with the double-BTCC champion expertly picking his way through the field to make up an impressive 12 places to take his Mountune-powered Focus ST into P9 by lap 7. Mat followed suit making his way back up through the field in the remaining laps before trading positions with his Airwaves team-mate on the final lap for the #7 and #6 Motorbase-run cars to cross the line in P9 and P10 respectively.

The weekend was another tale of ‘what could have been’ for Crabbie’s Racing driver Jack Clarke. After showing promising pace during Saturday’s qualifying session, the BTCC rookie’s weekend never quite delivered on the potential with the striking Crabbie’s liveried Focus managing a best placed finish of P18 in Sunday’s final race.

The weekend’s provisional results leave Airwaves Racing in third position in the Independent Teams Standings, having moved up into fourth place in the overall championship. The team has a short break before the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship heads to Croft, North Yorkshire for round 5 on June 28/29.

Team Principal David Bartrum said:
“We haven’t had a difficult weekend like this for a while. We came here with lots of expectation and the weather just threw the biggest curveball. We didn’t do too bad in qualifying, Fabrizio missed out with the red flag and I think he could have had a better result.

“It was strange that the longer International circuit didn’t deliver the usual big bang BTCC normally does, it was a very processional first race and nobody really moved. Fabrizio was then fired into by Alain Menu in the second race - who seems to be the biggest loose cannon out there at the moment- causing quite a lot of damage to the car and effectively ruined Fabrizio’s weekend. We fixed the car for the last race and then Fabrizio did a really good job to go from P21 to P10 in very difficult conditions. Unfortunately, Mat made a mistake on the wet stuff in race 3 and lost out.

“Jack Clarke had an interesting weekend, but all credit to him he’s worked extremely hard this weekend with his engineers, his data and his car and he’s not let his head drop. He’s shown a genuine pace and made a step forward.

“All in all it’s a shame really as I don’t think we got the result that we were destined to get. It was just one of those weekends.”

Airwaves Racing driver Mat Jackson said:
“Qualifying was a bit of a lottery. The circuit was getting quicker all the time but we managed to get a good start to the weekend with a P7. Nothing really much happened in race 1 and we managed to get P6 in second race which was good.

“We got a great start in race 3 and were in a good position but unfortunately I messed up and fired it off. We’ve got a lot of positives to take from the weekend though; the car’s got the pace and we’re consistently on the pace from Thruxton and through into this weekend. So even though we haven’t got the race 3 result everything is in very good shape. We were easily the quickest car on wets in that last race and dare I say it; we could have won the race but ifs, buts and maybes don’t win championships.”

Airwaves Racing driver Fabrizio Giovanardi said:
“What can I say? We have found more pace with the car but not the results because of other people. I was in a good position in race two to work well for race three but I didn’t get the chance to stay there, it’s frustrating.”

Crabbie’s Racing driver Jack Clarke said:
“We had a bit of a breakthrough in pace so that was a positive. In the wet and even in the slightly drying conditions we were quick and the potential was there. We could have done a lot more but I made a mistake in qualifying and it put us on the back foot and that really led to us having a few issues on race day.

“I’m seeing positives from every session but I need to piece them all together and get a level of consistency. I know what I need to focus on; all the elements are nearly there.”

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