Airwaves BMW star Mat Jackson is hoping to be able to 'capitalise' on his comparative lack of success ballast as the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship heads even further north to Croft for rounds 13, 14 and 15 of its 2010 campaign this weekend – as team-mate Steven Kane bids to 'move up a position or two'.
Fans' favourite Jackson will arrive at Croft off the back of a solid-if-unspectacular showing at Oulton Park last time out, where he claimed a brace of fourth-place finishes and a seventh to consolidate fifth spot in the title standings – though he conceded ground to pace-setters Matt Neal and Jason Plato in Cheshire. This weekend, the 2008 championship runner-up affirms, he is firmly focussed on closing that gap again.
“Going in with only 9kg success ballast will help us and we need to capitalise on our opportunity,” underlined the recently-turned 29-year-old, who produced a spellbinding performance at Croft two years ago to charge through the field from 18th place to barely a tenth of a second shy of victory in torrential conditions.
“I think we've had a little bit of bad luck so far – we've been taken out in one race and blown a diff in another. We have the pace, and Croft is a mega circuit. If it's dry, I think we can be confident of a solid points haul and podiums too.”
Team-mate Kane, for his part, has managed to snare a podium at every circuit the BTCC has visited thus far this year – with victory at Thruxton, a brace of third places at Rockingham, third again at Brands Hatch and an inspired runner-up spot in the final race at Oulton – and with his tail up, the Ulsterman is confident of continuing that trend in North Yorkshire as he endeavours to improve upon his current third position in the points table and maintain his Independents' Championship lead.
“I love Croft and I have some experience there,” revealed the 30-year-old. “In 2008 I had an excellent weekend and secured a fourth-place finish, but this year the car is so much quicker and I should be able to push it even harder. I'm hopeful that will translate into points and that I can continue to lead the Independents' Championship. I would also like to move up a position or two in the [overall] drivers' championship and challenge for the title.”
With the usual thrilling doorhandle-to-doorhandle action, hotly-fought racing and unpredictable nature of the BTCC all likely to be thrown into the equation for good measure, there is no guarantee that Airwaves will still be atop the teams' championship chase that it has led since the very start of the season come the end of the meeting – but team manager Oliver Collins insists all concerned will be doing their damndest.
“We're really looking forward to Croft,” he enthused. “It's a great venue, the circuit is fantastic and the locals are extremely passionate about their motorsport. We're arriving as leaders of the teams' championship and we dearly want to leave in the same position, though it will be tough.
“The championship is extremely competitive at the moment and it's tough to finish in the top ten, let alone on the podium. Everyone has been working hard at Airwaves BMW, though, and we're ready to 'Kick up a Gear' this weekend.”