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News 2012: Mat Jackson Interview January 2012

January 5th

Jackson Celebrates Maiden Win at Donington

The 2011 British Touring Car Championship season was a mix of highs and lows for the Motorbase Performance team which saw the Kent based squad achieve their most successful finish to date.

In the first of a short series of interviews, we catch up with fans' favourite Mat Jackson as he takes a look back at his 2011 season and discusses his plans and hopes for 2012.

MP: On reflection, how do you feel about your performance and the Motorbase team's during the 2011 BTCC season?

MJ: "Mixed really. We started with a completely new car to us so we always knew it was going to be tough year with the very limited amount of time we had available to learn the car. We surprised a lot of people though with just how strong our performance was in the 1st half of the season and I'm exceptionally proud that we managed to get to lead the championship at the halfway point; it was a huge achievement for me and the team and great to be part of. Also, to have taken 4 wins throughout the year against some very stiff competition felt good, it's just a shame that we had such a disappointing second half and end to the season."

MP: It was Motorbase 's best finish to date in the BTCC, but the feeling from the team seemed to be one of disappointment...would that be a fair description? Do you think your finishing position is a fair reflection of your season?

Jackson Secured 4 Wins During 2011 Season

MJ: "Yeah, it's tough because when you get a taste of leading the championship, which is the ultimate goal and it slips away, it leaves a disappointment there and it's hard not to think about what could have been. Overall though, we can be really proud of where we finished, if you consider the size of our team and the budgets available to us it's a real testament to how hard everyone works and the only teams that finished ahead of us were manufacturer backed.

MP: There was an awful lot of noise coming from other teams and drivers regarding the NGTC and normally aspirated cars this season, what are your thoughts on the subject and how TOCA managed the situation?

MJ: "It's an interesting argument, when you look at the facts during the 2011 season 8 wins went to the Chevrolet NA (normally aspirated) car, but there was still a lot of noise coming from them about the NGTC cars.
"TOCA had a difficult job, as there was never going to be 100% parity because you can't match the two like for like and whatever was put in place, one side wouldn't be happy. In hindsight maybe TOCA shouldn't have promised parity as it wasn't achievable – but they were in a no win position."

MP: What would you say were the stand out moments of the season for you....both good and bad?
Knockhill was a Low Point in 2011MJ: "Without a doubt leading the overall championship was the biggest highlight for all of us. In regards to racing, I would have to say it would be the first race at Croft. We took the gamble to go out on the still drying track with mixed tyres, it was a brave choice and luckily it paid off. To come back from 12th at one point to chase Matt Neal's Honda down as we crossed the line was pretty special. Also, getting that all important first win in Race 3 at Donington after coming back from 10th place was a happy memory.

"Overall, most of the second half of the year was a low point. There's not much to say about Knockhill, Silverstone & Rockingham to be honest, they were a bit of a disaster for various reasons, although a lot of them were down to bad luck. On the flip side, Brands Hatch went well for us and we had our best qualifying session at Silverstone so it wasn't all bad!"

MP: What are your thoughts on the new points system announced by TOCA for 2012?

MJ: "I think they're a good idea. With the increasing size of the gird, if you have a bad race 1 or 2, it will open up a few more opportunities and ultimately produce a closer championship. It will also help the likes of Liam and the drivers that are new to the BTCC to pick up points for their team and make it more open."

MP: In hindsight, how did you feel the changeover to the Ford Focus went? What impact do you feel this had on you, the team and in the form of results?

Motorbase Showed Just How Competitive the Focus Could be in 2011MJ: "It was definitely a move in the right direction compared to where we were with the BMW, which was never going to be competitive last season. The Focus enabled us to challenge for the championship even with limited time and development, and I think it's fair to say we surprised a few people with how strong we were!"

MP: You significantly outperformed the newer generation Ford Focus driven and run by Team Aon this season and many would argue you got a lot more out of the cars than they ever managed...why do think this was?

MJ: "When Aon ran the car, they ran more with more boost so they didn't have to look in different areas to find improvements. We were on a level field with the other cars, so we sat down with the engineers and went back to base line set up. The whole Motorbase team, from the engineers, mechanics and overall package behind the car improved it vastly over where it came from."

MP: How instrumental was bringing in David Potter as your engineer and what impact do you think we had on the in the results you saw in 2011?

MJ: "Anyone that knows David will know that he's an eccentric character to say the least! But you can't argue with his pedigree after winning with Dynamics and BMW and David Bartrum pulled a master stroke getting him on board with the team. There's no doubt that he was instrumental in moving the team forward and our success this year."

MP: What are you hoping for in 2012 and do you have any plans in place that you would like to share with the BTCC fans at this stage?

MJ: "I want to win the championship in the best package available.

"We're working together to secure a deal at the moment....watch this space!"