Round 15: Jackson scores first BTCC win
24 June 2007
Mat Jackson has scored his first Dunlop MSA British Touring Car win in the third race of the day at Oulton Park after holding back the race long advances of Jason Plato for a famous victory.
A firm crowd favourite, Jackson's win proved a popular one after resisting increasing pressure from Plato as the race wore on, although the SEAT driver will be content with second as it moves him back into the joint lead of the championship when arch-rival Fabrizio Giovanardi failed to finish.
An eventful final race of the day on a dry circuit, Jackson utilised the strength of his Jackson M-Sport-run BMW 320si off the line to thread between front row sitters Adam Jones and Darren Turner and lead into the first corner.
However, there was yet more drama behind when Matt Neal got out of shape exiting Old Hall after slight contact with Plato, the momentum turning his Civic round. His accident though managed to involve race two winner Colin Turkington after clipping the back of him as he swept past, as well as Mika Jordan who jutted right in avoidance and in doing so pushed Giovanardi alongside him off.
While Jordan spun and managed to recover otherwise unscathed at the back of the field, Giovanardi hit the barriers head on to rearrange the front of his VX Racing Vectra. Turkington wouldn't get much further either when he slid off at Cascades, bringing a disappointing end to an otherwise strong day for the Team RAC driver.
With Neal, Giovanardi and Turkington out – together with the failure to start for Gareth Howell, David Pinkney, Simon Blanckely and Jason Hughes – a slightly slimmer field returned round to the waiting safety car, with Jackson in the lead, Jones second, Turner third, Plato fourth and Tom Onslow-Cole fifth, having made a brilliant start from 13th. Even more surprising had been Chris Stockton in fifth place, only for him to pull his Lexus into the pit lane after just a lap behind the safety car having slipped back to ninth.
With the race underway again on lap four, Tom Chilton and Gordon Shedden were on the move, the duo hounding sixth place Matt Allison throughout the lap before the Vauxhall battled his way through, dragging the Honda along behind him. Shedden didn't wait long to make his move on Chilton though, lining him up out of Old Hall and pulling a classic and clean move on the inside of Cascades.
With Jackson just edging away from Jones' Toledo, the pressure was now on the Team Air Cool driver from the newer Leons of Plato and Turner in third and fourth. The pressure eventually told when Jones ran wide out Cascades, bouncing across the grass alongside the straight and choosing not to dispute the position when Plato pulled alongside to capitalise.
Attention quickly turned to Shedden again though as he reeled in Onslow-Cole, who in turn was bothering the back of Turner's car. Although the Civic was large in his mirrors though, he was unable to make any kind of move stick until lap nine when he stayed wide down the home straight and out-braked the BMW into the first corner. Undeterred though, Onslow-Cole was back up to fifth coming out of Island hairpin when Shedden ran wide. Nonetheless, that was the venue Shedden used to get his own back again, albeit with some panel bashing as he slipped back up the inside, holding the position over the crest and down to Knickerbrook.
Up ahead, Jones was Shedden's next target after he dropped behind Turner on lap ten, the former GT racer making the Scotsman's job easy when he was caught up with Jim Pocklington as he attempted to lap him, the duo making slight contact, but doing enough to send the BMW off into the gravel trap and Jones to lose momentum, Shedden duly taking advantage to nip past into fourth.
As the race headed into its final stages, Jackson in the lead – having endured a somewhat less eventful race than his rivals behind – was now beginning to feel the heat from Plato, but while the SEAT got close, he was arguably never in a position to overtake the lighter – if twitchier – BMW ahead.
Despite a nervous last few corners though, Jackson climbed Deer Leap for the final time on lap 17 to cross the line for a superb maiden BTCC win, much to the delight of his relatively small team.
Plato settled for second to pull now neck and neck with Giovanardi heading to the next round at Donington Park, while Turner completed a better final race for the SEAT team with a podium on what has been a tough day for the recently crowned Le Mans winner.
Shedden shadowed Turner over the line for fourth, with Jones a marvellous fifth on his racing return to the series for the first time since the season opener at Brands Hatch.
Chilton crossed the line sixth after pressuring Onslow-Cole into a mistake on lap 14, the BMW driver running wide into Old Hall and spinning his 320si a full 360 degrees before recovering to an eventual seventh place at the chequered flag.
Allison finished a rather lonely eighth, ahead of a recovering Jordan, while Martyn Bell got his 2007 points tally off the mark with a determined drive to tenth in his Allaboutproperty.com BMW 320i.