Star rookie Mat Jackson
has criticised rival Matt Neal
for running his chances of lifting the Independents' trophy in his maiden season in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, after the pair clashed heavily at both Brands Hatch
Jackson ultimately missed out on the Indie crown by just 15 points as fellow BMW driver Colin Turkington
pipped him to the laurels in the last meeting of the year Thruxton, despite the Jacksons Motorsport ace triumphing in the final race. Jackson picked up just 14 Indie points at Knockhill
compared to Turkington's 42.
“Looking back, this year has been a very steep learning curve for both myself and the team,” Jackson acknowledged while speaking to Crash.net Radio
. “Nine months ago the BMW was a car we hadn't seen before. We picked it up in early January, and couldn't do much testing because the budget didn't stretch that far.
“It was always going to be tough, especially being up against teams like West Surrey, SEAT, Vauxhall and Dynamics. To some extent money is no issue to them, so they're going to get there by hook or by crook. For us it was slightly different; we'd got what we'd got and we had to make it work. The team doesn't employ anybody full-time, so it requires a lot of effort on both my part and that of the family.”
The 26-year-old twice stood on the top step of the podium outright over the course of the season – firstly at Oulton Park
back in June, and then at Thruxton. It was enough to help him to seventh position in the standings amongst some exalted company, but he admitted the failure to achieve his main goal – that of lifting the Indie trophy – was his one regret.
“The highlights have to be the wins,” the 2006 SEAT Cupra Cup UK Champion enthused. “To go out there in our first season and have not just one but two victories I think is fantastic, and it's a great championship to take the wins in.
“Low points? Matt Neal. We had some comings-together that I think could have been avoided, with in particular some very heavy damage at Knockhill
that cost us a lot of money to repair, and we haven't got the budget that teams like that can run to. For us I think that was probably the lowest point, because to try and close the gap to Colin after that was always going to be extremely tough.
“We had some good times and some bad ones – including some very testing moments – but overall it was a successful year. We finished two points behind the works SEAT of Darren Turner, we were the top rookie in the championship and we beat the other Vauxhall of Tom Chilton
as well, so all-in-all I think it wasn't a bad showing. It was just a shame Knockhill
cost us the Independents' title.”