Interview : Mat Jackson - So far, so good!
Wed 6th April 2011 Mat Jackson claimed three top-four finishes for Airwaves Racing at Brands Hatch, leaving him with high hopes for the year ahead.
By Matt Lamprell
Mat Jackson sits second in the BTCC Drivers' championship and heads the Independents table after a successful start to the season at Brands Hatch.
Fourth, third and second were the three results that leave Jackson as Jason Plato's closest rival after the first of ten meetings in the 2011 BTCC.
Sticking with Airwaves Racing for a second consecutive season, Jackson finds himself at the wheel of a front-wheel-drive car that was in contention for the title last year, albeit with a new-for-2011 NGTC turbo engine.
"We knew from pre-season testing that we've got a car that's quick in terms of out and out qualifying pace", said Jackson. "What we didn't know is what it was going to do over a race distance.
"We came here not having done a full race distance. Race one was really a test session for us, albeit we had a good result at the end of it. To finish fourth was a great result."
The Airwaves Racing driver qualified sixth for the opening race of the new season, which was better than eight out of ten of his grid positions in 2010, so the signs are positive for the Motorbase team.
Jackson continued: "We knew we wanted more. We're hungry for success and we've got a great engineer in David [Potter]. He keeps pushing and keeps pushing and we turned the car around to get a mega result in the third race.
"Qualifying is always the key. For that race one, if you can qualify at the front, it's easier to stay there. If you start at the back, race one's always a bit of carnage. It makes it hard. Qualifying is the key as we saw last year. We're coming from the BMWs where qualifying was hard work and it reflected in the races. We've got a great chassis that we're developing and I'm confident that we can keep the form and move it forward again."
Airwaves Racing has switched from the 'full' S2000 (chassis + engine) BMWs that it ran last year to the 'hybrid' (S2000 chassis + NGTC engine) Fords in 2011. With a variety of packages on the grid, discussion has already turned to the relative benefits of each.
"They're strong over a single lap", Jackson said of the turbo NGTC engines such as the one fitted in his Focus. "We've got a lot of torque and the engine is heavy, which brings its own challenges over a race distance.
"You've got the Chevrolets out there that are so, so quick compared to us. It's got a great chassis and a great little engine in it as we saw from Jason we he decided to show his true pace in race two – he drove away from us.
"It's going to be an interesting season. We've embraced the new turbo engine and so far, so good!"