News 2013: Mat Jackson mid-season interview
Now in his fourth season with the Motorbase Performance run Airwaves Racing squad, Mat Jackson is one of the leading drivers in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship. With a string of race wins and podiums to his name since his debut in the BTCC in 2007, the 32 year old has won over thousands of fans and is one of the most popular drivers on and off the track.
We catch up with him at the mid-season summer break to find out his thoughts on the season so far...
AR: Once the BTCC season closes in October, the fans don't really see or hear much from the drivers again until the New Year....what exactly do you all get up to? Is it true there's a mass hibernation pact?! Can you give us an insight into what goes on out of season?
MJ: "Well once the season ends the new season is just starting. It might seem like there is a nice down time for drivers to go away for 6 months and put their feet up – well, sorry to disappoint but there is no such luxury! In today's world of racing the driver can make up a large part of the budget to run the car and this means that you are busy with existing sponsors and new sponsors to keep them on board for the following season which can be quite a challenge in as much as satisfying the requirements for logos on the car, hospitality etc. as you can imagine, there is never a big rush to finalise things too fast; but on the flip side the sooner that this can be agreed the sooner the team can get prepared for the next season."
AR: The second half of 2012 really gained momentum with the new NGTC Focus picking up race wins and podiums on its early appearances and many people seemed to expect you to start this season in the same way. Would you say that this was a realistic expectation given that it's still such an early stage in the car's development?
MJ: "The debut of the NGTC Car midway through 2012 was a great achievement for the whole Motorbase team. For the first time in the history of the team we became a constructor which opens up a whole new world and set of challenges which put us up against the likes of Honda and MG. To achieve 3 top 8 finishes on our debut race weekend was very satisfying; the remainder of the year would see the car achieve its first race win and a string of podium results and would suggest that 2013 was going to be exciting year and put us in a good starting point.
"Ultimately we haven't been able to achieve the ultimate set up so far this season and that has left us on the back foot, as the world never stands still. Motorsport is no different - our competition has had the jump on us - but not for long!"
AR: We're in the middle of the summer hiatus now, what have you been up to during the break and how have you been preparing for the second half of the season?
MJ: "The summer break has been and is going fast; with the next race at Snetterton in just under 3 weeks away where has it gone?! With the team being so passionate and determined to win there has been little down time, I have managed to squeeze a short break in and despite not telling David (the boss) he still managed to find me on the beach!"
"Aside from the BTCC racing I have been behind the wheel of many McLaren Cars with my role as an official McLaren development driver; this has taken me around Europe in the past week and I guess will continue to do so in the upcoming weeks.
"One of the most exciting races that I will compete in this season is the Silverstone classic at the end of the month. I have signed to drive with the famous Alan Mann Racing team with their red and gold livery at the wheel of one of their Lotus Cortina's. We're hoping that we can improve on last season's result of 4th place from some 63 starters around the fabulous Silverstone GP circuit; and I'll be sharing my driving duties with Henry Mann with whom we have achieved race wins in the past."
AR: What are your goals and objectives for the remainder of the BTCC season?
MJ: "To win; it is simple. We haven't had the best start to the season, the results speak for themselves. We have managed to squeeze in two days of testing at Snetterton in the break and with the developments on the cars some very encouraging times were set so watch this space.
"I have my tail in the air after the test and am keeping the 'kick firmly in the bottle' until then!"