Having missed the opening rounds of the new season at Brands Hatch, Mat Jackson will return to the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship this weekend at Thruxton after inking a deal to run in a Chevrolet Lacetti with RML.
In much the same way as Jason Plato inked a deal in the run up to the season opener – where he took victory in race three – Jackson will now get his chance to return to the series where he won five times last year en-route to second in the standings.
The deal will see Jackson switch from rear-wheel drive to front-wheel drive with his move from the BMW 320si to the Lacetti, while he will also move away from the family-run Jackson MSport team that has run him for the past two years.
“Firstly, RML is one of the very best teams on the grid – its history and results show that,” he told BTCC.net
. “Furthermore, it runs Chevrolet's cars in the World Touring Car series so it knows the Lacetti inside out. Hopefully, this is the start of a new and very positive chapter in my career. It's the chance to move on from a very well run but nevertheless quite small team to a bigger entity.
“On top of that, there's the potential to compare myself against someone of Jason's calibre in identical machinery. This is why I am here – to race against the best drivers and improve my own performance. It's going to be tough to jump straight in and instantly get big results – I'll be going to Thruxton with just a quick shakedown in the car.
“But the Chevrolet was clearly very quick at Brands Hatch a couple of weeks ago. It's got a stonking engine and its straightline speed was there for all to see – Thruxton is the fastest circuit on the calendar and I've won there before in the BTCC so it all points to a positive weekend.”
RML chief Ray Mallock said he was delighted to welcome Jackson on board and said he was confident that the Henley-in-Arden ace would be a strong addition to the team.
“I'm delighted to welcome Mat to the team and to confirm that we will be appearing at the next event,” he said. “I know I speak for everyone at the factory when I say we cannot wait to see Mat in the car.
“He really proved his enviable abilities last year – ten podiums and a second place finish in the championship standings, competing against some far more experienced drivers just shows Mat really deserves to be on the grid in 2009. Combine this with the Lacetti favouring the high speed straights of Thruxton and it should prove to be an exciting pairing.”
As yet, there has been no official confirmation that Plato has been able to extend his deal with RML into a second weekend, having openly admitted after Brands Hatch that funding needed to be found.