Airwaves suffer Championship challenge set-back at Knockhill

Airwaves Racing’s Championship challenge suffered a set-back in Scotland following a weekend of hard knocks during round 7 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Knockhill. The Motorbase run-team make the long journey back down South disappointed having lost their overall lead in the Championship but can take solace to come away with the Independent team and drivers leads still intact despite a race day crippled by bad luck.

The weekend looked to start well for the team, as lead driver Mat Jackson put in impressive performances during both free practise sessions, where, despite carrying the maximum success ballast of 45kg, managed to qualify in 7th position for the first of Sunday’s races. Unfortunately for the Henley-in-Arden driver and Airwaves Racing team, this would prove to be the only highlight of the weekend.

Race one looked promising for Jackson as he managed to expertly pick his way through the field to close in on the lead pack before an over-ambitious move by Rob Collard as they headed into the chicane on the 23rd lap damaged the steering of the Ford Focus, puncturing the front right tyre and forcing the Airwaves Car into the pits. Jackson managed to get back out on track for the final few laps to salvage a few spots to finish in 17th.

The final two outings of the day didn’t fare any better for the team, with Jackson forced into early retirement again in both races, due to a damaged wheel and puncture during race  two and a heavy impact with the rear of Tom Chilton’s Focus, which instantly cut the engine and resulted in Jackson’s second DNF of the day. This was despite the gallant efforts of Jackson who had put in a blistering drive from last on the grid up to 7th and onto the tails of Chilton and the two Hondas.

Team-mate Liam Griffin suffered with mechanical and electrical faults in the first two races of the day, both resulting in DNF’s for the BTCC rookie. However, a solid performance in the final race resulted in a pleasing 16th spot finish for Hertfordshire based Griffin, a welcome positive result at the end of a very challenging weekend for Airwaves Racing team.

Airwaves Racing Team Manager Oly Collins said: “What a weekend. That’s certainly one to forget! To start the day leading the title and come away with one solitary point for fastest lap is not what we expected. It was just one of those days I suppose. On a positive we were very happy with the pace of Mat’s car all weekend even with 45Kgs. Proven with fastest lap in race 2. Roll on Rockingham.”

Airwaves Racing driver Mat Jackson said: “I’ve never known bad luck like this in all my years of racing. The Airwaves team put out a fantastic car this weekend; unfortunately we couldn’t deliver the race results that the pace of the car was capable of.  My mistake in race three put an end to our chances of salvaging a result after showing how strong it was coming from last place on the grid, but it’s done and we’ve got to look forward to Rockingham now.”

“I really like the final three circuits on the calendar and have had wins at all of them before and its wins I really need from now on. The grid is becoming more and more competitive all the time so it will be tough but I know I’m in the right car and with the right team to get the job done.”

Airwaves Racing driver Liam Griffin said: “I think it’s fair to say that the weekend was a disappointment for everyone in the team. We fully expected Knockhill to be tough but no-one anticipated it would go as badly as it did.  We had issues with my car for each of the first races that were totally unpredictable, but the boys did well to get me back out for the third race and I was fairly satisfied to come in where I did at 16th from the back of the grid.”

Independent Championship leaders Airwaves Racing now have a short turnaround before heading to Rockingham for round 8 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship on the 18th September.