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Airwaves Racing duo score double podium in Thruxton thriller

May 5th 2014

Jackson takes P2 for Airwaves Racing in thrilling final race

Airwaves Racing stormed back onto the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) podium during a thrilling third round at Hampshire's Thruxton circuit this bank holiday weekend, May 3/4.

The Motorbase-run squad put in a commanding performance collecting five top ten finishes during Sunday's three races, ending on a high note with a stunning double podium in the final race of the weekend.

Saturday's qualifying session proved fruitful for the Airwaves squad, with the Mountune-powered Focus ST's pace justly rewarded with a suitably impressive P4 spot for Mat Jackson – nestled in just behind the three championship leading Honda's. Fabrizio also enjoyed a much stronger performance, sitting in sixth position for much of what was a particularly close session but lost out late in the session to start the first of Sunday's races in P12.

Giovanardi takes to the curbs in the #7 Airwaves Racing Focus.From the off, it looked to be a weekend of promise for the Airwaves squad as Mat charged off the start line for race 1 passing the works' Honda's in opening lap to close in on race leader Jordan as they hustled through the chicane. For a few tense moments Mat looked to be challenging for the lead as the Mountune-powered Ford and Honda raced side by side during the opening laps. Jordan however, proved to be just a touch out of reach and the #6 Focus finally succumbed to intense pressure and tactical teamwork from Shedden and Neal during the second half of the race and Mat did well to reclaim his original P4 finish for the team. Further back Fabrizio was having his own battles in the lively mid-pack, maintaining his P12 position to collect further points for the squad's championship campaign.

A dramatic race 2 required brave defences from the Airwaves drivers with both Mat and Fabrizio having to fight off robust challenges from the field and avoid the usual opening lap melee as the pack jostled for positions as they charged through the complex. A massive incident involving Foster and Austin eventually saw the race red flagged with two laps remaining and the Airwaves drivers settled into P5 and P10, banking another haul of points along the way.

Lady luck provided a helping hand with the reversed grid draw with Fabrizio slotting his #7 Focus onto pole for the final race of the day giving the Italian his best shot of the season so far to fight at the front of the pack. The pressure was on from the start however, with Turkington making the most of the BMW's rear wheel drive to charge through and steal the lead. Both Fabrizio and Mat held their positions as the challenges came in before Mat picked off Collard and Goff in the opening laps to fall in behind his Airwaves team-mate in P3.

Five top tens and a double podium for Airwaves Racing at ThruxtonA tense race followed with two safety car deployments and both Airwaves drivers defended hard against increasing pressure from Goff and Collard. Teamwork prevailed as Fabrizio and Mat worked together to allow the faster Focus to mount a challenge on leader Turkington, with double- champion Fabrizio putting in a heroic drive in the closing laps of the race to hold off the hard pushing pack of Jordan, Shedden and Goff right to the finish line, securing a stunning double podium P2 and P3 finish for the Airwaves Racing duo.

The weekend proved to be more challenging for Crabbie's Racing with Jack Clarke's strong performance in the final race ended abruptly following early contact. The BTCC rookie put in a sterling effort managing to steer the #44 Focus back on track following a spin, but the resulting damage to the car forced a late pit-stop and relegated him to the back of the pack for a disappointing end to a promising weekend.  Despite the latter set back, Jack continued to make good progress throughout the weekend, learning the BTCC race craft required and feels sure with a little luck on his side, he'll soon be fighting for points finishes once more.

Airwaves Racing currently lies third in the Independents Team standings and fifth in the overall championship following this weekend's third round action. The BTCC now has a five week break before reconvening at Cheshire's Oulton Park circuit on June 7/8.

Airwaves Racing Team Manager Oly Collins said:
"That was a fantastic way to finish off what's been a solid weekend. We were quietly confident coming in to this weekend that we had made a step forward with the cars set up and managed to prove it.

Giovanardi and Jackson celebrate a P3 & P2 double podium in  race 3"Mat has been very comfortable with the car all weekend and has backed that up with 3 top 5 finishes which is a fantastic result. Fabrizio is really starting to get the car how he wants and did a great job for his first podium with us. Jack has also started to get the car closer to his liking and despite the results for him this weekend; we're going into this break full of confidence for the remainder of the season with all three cars."

Airwaves Racing driver Mat Jackson said:
Tough end to a promising weekend for Jack Clarke and Crabbie's Racing"Qualifying started really well for us and we've had three cracking results in the races and obviously finishing second in the last race was a highlight and fantastic way to end the day. Off the back of Donington the car proved it had very good pace where we were running with the Hondas again so we hoped would be in that position.We've never really been able to carry that over to another circuit but  the car has proven that it can compete and we're starting to get a handle on the car now where we can mount a serious challenge on the championship.

"Thruxton's one of those circuits where you've got to be confident with the car and the Motorbase guys have given me a car that I feel confident with. We've made some gains on the car that we're very happy with and this weekend's an awesome result for Airwaves Racing. There's more in the car that we need to find, the Hondas are clearly the benchmark at the moment and that's where we need to be, we're here to win and that is our main focus that will enable us to keep fighting at the front."

Airwaves Racing driver Fabrizio Giovanardi said:
"It's awesome to be back on the podium again, you are always looking for that, to be fighting at the front and I've started to understand the car a bit more this weekend, a bit more the rules and a bit more the team.

"Even when it's difficult, because today was tough I can tell you, it's better than when you win easy. When you win easy you say well I got the best car, it's ok, I won; but when you have to fight for it, it feels better. It's my character to be never totally satisfied, I'll always want more I don't like driving a car just to go racing, for me it's always a job and work and I am here to do my best for the team."

Crabbie's Racing driver Jack Clarke said:
"The overall feeling is that we've got to a point where I'm happy with the car. It took a bit of a while to get there and unfortunately once we were happy with the car, sod's law we got taken out by another car, so it's disappointing. I certainly lose sleep over my driving or the car's set up but you can't do too much about it if you're taken out of a race. But I'll put this weekend behind me as it's not what I'd call a successful weekend and move onto the next one at Oulton Park.

"We've made massive steps forward again this weekend. I'm pretty happy with my personal development so far; it's just that sometimes it doesn't come out on paper or in the results. I expected a challenge coming into touring cars and that's exactly what I've got, and I'm loving it. I'm soaking it all up at the moment and just looking forward to the point where I make up that next little bit of time, and it will happen - I have full trust in myself and the team."

Event Information:
Thruxton Circuit: 2.36 miles
Laps: 16
Race distance: 37.76 miles
Address: Thruxton, Andover, SP11 8PN