Redstone Racing remains optimistic despite a challenging opening weekend to the 2012 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at its home circuit, Brands Hatch, on 31 March/1 April.
The Wrotham-based team experienced mixed fortunes at the 1.2-mile Indy circuit, with top ten finishes for all three of its Ford Focus STs – piloted by Mat Jackson, Aron Smith and Liam Griffin – contrasted by incidents in the opening and closing races.
Following a frustrating qualifying session, Jackson and Griffin made a solid start to the weekend, with Mat scything his way from 11th on the grid to take seventh position. Liam, meanwhile, climbed his way from the back of the field following an early jump-start drive through penalty to clinch a respectable 14th place.
There were woes for Redstone Racing newcomer Smith, however, who was unable to convert his quick pace into a points score after contact from behind forced him off at Druids on lap 15, causing heavy damage to his Focus ST.
Jackson and Griffin made further progress in race two; the former taking his best result of the weekend in fourth. Although the team made heroic efforts to repair Smith’s car, the talented Irish youngster only completed a handful of laps before retiring due to problems caused by his earlier incident.
Podium hopes were high in race three after Jackson drew fifth position in the reverse-grid final encounter. The 30-year-old made a lightning start, taking second on the first run into Paddock Hill Bend before beginning to edge a gap on the field behind. An off-track excursion at the same corner three laps later brought his victory charge to an end however, as damage sustained to the oil line caused a terminal leak.
Fluid on thecircuit meant several cars behind Jackson went off at Druids corner, including his team-mate Smith. The 19-year-old turned this misfortune around however, recovering to the pit lane whilst the race was briefly stopped to clear the circuit. At the restart, Smith quickly carved his way into the top ten, running as high as seventh before eventually crossing the line eighth to score points on his Redstone Racing debut. Griffin added to this total, taking his third top 15 finish of the day to crown the most successful weekend of his BTCC career.
Redstone Racing driver Mat Jackson said:“We were on the back foot after qualifying, but we made good progress in the first two races. The third race started well; we made some set-up changes and the car felt really good. Then the rear end broke away and we went wide into the gravel, which damaged an oil line. It’s not quite the start we wanted but the season is long and we just need to keep plugging away.”
Redstone Racing driver Aron Smith commented:“I’m really proud of my pace this weekend. I was fastest in the third sector in race one before I was involved in an incident that caused a lot of damage. The team worked tirelessly to get the car repaired; I don’t know how they managed it as I was all ready to pack my bags and go home! Race three was a battle of two halves for me. I hit the oil in fifth gear and went backwards into the gravel but then at the restart I made the top ten with a damaged car. It’s an encouraging start to the season and I’m delighted with the pace my Ford Focus ST has shown.”
Redstone Racing driver Liam Griffin added:“For me, consistency ruled at Brands Hatch and I was rewarded with my best ever weekend in the BTCC. There was a lot of contact out on track so I just kept my head down and managed to avoid it. This season is all about gaining confidence and building on it, so I’m looking forward to carrying that forward to the next few circuits, which suit my driving style.”
Redstone Racing Team Manager Oly Collins concluded: “A very frustrating weekend all round, one which we’ll be glad to put behind us! The Redstone Racing team worked amazingly with the damage repairs needed after various incidents but were not repaid in results. We think we have recognised an issue that we are confident we’ll be able to resolve for Donington Park, so we’ll dust ourselves down and get ready to come back strong in a couple of weeks’ time.”
Redstone Racing now turns its attentions to Donington Park, which will host rounds 4, 5 and 6 of the 2012 BTCC on 14/15 April.