Mat Jackson believes the level of competition within the British Touring Car Championship has increased yet again from last season following Motorbase Performance's return to the series at Snetterton.

Motorbase Performance ended their enforced five-event sabbatical from the BTCC with Jackson and team mate James Cole lining up on the grid for the time this season.

Jackson - aboard the 2015-spec Ford Focus ST, boasting the all new mountune developed Ecoboost engine - began the weekend in eye-catching fashion with the sixth fastest time in FP1.

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Despite his promising pace, it took Jackson almost the entirety of the meeting to once again reach that position after only qualifying in 14th.

The 34-year old admitted that time out of the championship meant the changes made to the Ford Focus from practice to qualifying didn't work out in the way his team expected from previous experience.

"We seemed to lose ground for qualifying and we've taken all weekend to get back to where we were in FP1," Jackson told crash.net. "But we've done it. I think we now understand some of the things which we overlooked.

"It was a surprise for us to be so far back in qualifying. FP1 was great for us. But we made a few changes and that clearly didn't go in the direction that historically would have made the car go faster.

"Obviously the championship has moved on and the teams have moved on but also some of the suppliers have moved on. So for us it's a double whammy because we need to understand something that is different and, in all fairness, we probably overlooked that."

Jackson says the rise of Team BMR, coupled with the rest of the field's step forward from last season, has meant breaking into the top-dozen is a 'tougher nut to crack'.

"It was never going to be easy. The teams and the drivers in the championship are seriously good. So we didn't expect to waltz back in and blow them into the weeds. They've moved on a lot," Jackson continued.

"Obviously Jason [Plato] has switched teams and Team BMR has improved. They have a lot of cars as well so when you start adding them up with Honda and BMW - it's a tough nut to crack. The top, say, 13 cars are seriously quick."