Having gone into the final rounds of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship looking to try and secure third place in the overall standings, Mat Jackson surprised even himself by going one better and taking the runner-up slot behind double champion Fabrizio Giovanardi.
The BMW Dealer Team UK driver went into the weekend just three points behind Colin Turkington in the fight for third, but was some 32 points behind second-placed Jason Plato – with a maximum of only 52 available from the final three races of the season.
Having qualified on the front row of the grid, Jackson duly took victory in race one to move ahead of Turkington in the standings while the gap to Plato also came down when the SEAT man could only manage fifth. However, when Jackson repeated the feat in race two and Plato was forced to retire, the gap between the pair suddenly dropped to just five points with one race remaining.
That left Jackson needing to finish fifth with Plato not scoring to clinch a surprise runner-up slot, and with Plato only able to cross the line in 13th place, Jackson stole the championship position by taking the flag in fourth place.
“We came into the weekend and knew we could get third from Colin,” he told Crash.net
, “although we didn't really think we could get second. Although we knew it was mathematically possible, to achieve it would be another matter and we knew it would need back luck from Jason. To come away from Brands Hatch having actually taken second place is a fantastic achievement for everyone at the team.
“We knew going into race three that there was five points to Jason and that while he was going to come through from the back and try to score points, we needed to get fifth and hope he couldn't make it into the top ten. As it was, we finished fourth and he was outside the points so it was mission accomplished and job done.”
As for his future plans, Jackson admitted that nothing has yet been decided although he was keen to try and return to the BTCC again in 2009 to end Giovanardi's title reign.
“It's a long winter; things can change and things can happen,” he said. “We'll have to see what happens. We leave in second today but to go out there next year and go one better wouldn't be easy as you have to beat these works guys and when they have three cars in the team, it makes it difficult. Hopefully we can come back next year and go for the championship.”