Changeable weather conditions threw a curve ball at the Airwaves Racing squad during round 5 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) at Croft circuit this past weekend (22/23 June).
A promising start for the Motorbase-run outfit was dampened by difficult weather conditions with the Airwaves Racing Mountune-powered NGTC Ford Focus ST’s on the receiving end of some robust racing moves over the weekend. However, a strong comeback with both Airwaves Racing Focus ST’s showing improved pace during the weekend’s action saw the team salvage hard-fought points finishes in each of Sunday’s three races – further fuelling its challenge on the Independents championship.
Despite very challenging racing conditions forcing multiple last minute set-up changes to the Ford Focus ST’s; the Airwaves Racing squad’s sterling efforts resulted in a solid weekend’s performance and the Kent-based team has progressed in the Independent championship standings. Aron’s points finishes in all three races see him move up into 6th place in the Independent driver standings; with Mat Jackson currently sitting in 9th. The weekend’s results also leave Airwaves Racing in 4th in the Independent team standings as the championship hits the mid-season break point.
This weekend also produced a mixed bag of results for the Addison Lee Motorbase squad. With Michael Caine taking the Autoglym LifeShine branded third NGTC Focus ST on its maiden race run; the 43 year old British GT champion produced a stunning near-flawless drive in Sunday’s opening race to cross the finish line in an impressive P8. Unfortunately an engine fault prevented Caine from finishing the last two races of the day; despite a strong showing in the opening laps of race 2.
Likewise, 19 year old BRDC rising star Jake Hill shone on his BTCC debut; where he was standing in for Addison Lee boss Liam Griffin in the Ford Focus S2000 model. The Kent-based teenager showed remarkable maturity and race craft in each of Sunday’s races and his efforts were justly rewarded with a class win and Jack Sears Trophy in the weekend’s opening race.
The BTCC now takes an extended six week summer break with the Airwaves Racing squad embarking on further testing and development work before returning for round 6 of the 2013 season at Norfolk’s Snetterton circuit on August 3/4.
Motorbase Performance Team Principal David Bartrum said: “It’s been a hard fought weekend here at Croft for Airwaves Racing; but on the positive side we’ve got some points amassed and we’ve moved forward in the championship standings. The cars are showing better pace and consistency and we’re going into the break now with time to carry out some more development work to move this year’s newly constructed NGTC Ford Focus forward.
“I’m grateful for the break now so we can catch our breath, go away and do some more development work and testing; and I look forward to going racing at Snetterton in August where I feel sure we’ll move further forward.”
Airwaves Racing driver Mat Jackson said: “After the pace that the car showed at Oulton Park we came to Croft thinking that this was going to be our weekend; but unfortunately some of my fellow competitors had a different idea. I took two hits in the rear in two races on each corner which hampered my progress.
“Race three was probably the most difficult conditions I’ve seen in a while in the BTCC and I believe that the wet weather really was border-line whether we should have run the race; but it went ahead and I scored some points- so the weekend wasn’t a total washout. Roll on Snetterton!”
Airwaves Racing driver Aron Smith said: “To score points in all three races is the main objective so it’s good to come away with three point finishes. We worked on a lot of data this weekend, trying to find that elusive sweet spot on the car and I think that if the rain hadn’t have come in race 3 we were nearly there in the dry. But the rain threw a new spanner in the works and we had to learn how it ran in the wet.
“Now that we have a six week gap and also a two day test at Snetterton coming up; I think that will be the turning point for our season and will help to underline all the work that we’ve done so far this season and hopefully put us back at the sharp end where we belong.”
Addison Lee Motorbase driver Michael Caine said: “It was brilliant to get the chance to come and race in the BTCC again and I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity. We got great support from Autoglym LifeShine and I feel that the car has got absolute definite potential and should be a race winning car.
“I’d obviously love that opportunity to try and win a race for the Motorbase team, but whether it does or doesn’t happen, from what we learnt this weekend; it’s a step in the right direction. Personally it would be a shame if I never got the opportunity to race it again, but I hope that everybody looks at it and goes; well he’s a 43 year old car salesman from Newmarket and he didn’t do a bad job!”
Addison Lee Motorbase driver Jake Hill said: “Overall it was absolutely brilliant. To get first in class in free practice and then qualifying in second and not that far off the lead was really good; and then to get the Jack Sears Trophy in race one was amazing. I was a little disappointed to have been pipped on the line in race 2 but I learnt a lot about race craft in the race; and then race 3 I got my welcome to touring cars! The car was mega in the wet and we managed to get up to 11th at one point but then the pushing and shoving started and we got beaten up. But, hey; that’s touring cars!
“I’m over the moon with the Jack Sears Trophy win; I’m pleased with the job I’ve done today and this weekend has just driven me on even further to want to race in the BTCC.
“I’d like to dedicate my Jack Sears Trophy win to my Nan and Lesley Hayes who a lot of people knew around the paddock. I’d also like to say a massive thank you to David, Barbara, Oly and everyone at Motorbase and also to my sponsors The Sportif group and Drift for helping make this weekend happen.”
Croft circuit: 2.25 miles
Race distance: 33.75 miles
Address: Croft Circuit, West Lane, Dalton-on-Tess, North Yorkshire DL2 2PN