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Airwaves Racing reignites championship challenge at Knockhill

August 25th 2014

Mat Jackson takes first win of the season for Airwaves Racing in race 2 at Knockhill

Airwaves Racing reignited its championship challenge at Knockhill over the bank holiday weekend (23/24 August) with a commanding win during round 7 of the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.

Having arrived at the Fife circuit on the crest of a wave after a successful weekend at Snetterton earlier in the month, the Motorbase-run outfit further stamped its mark on the championship with Mat Jackson claiming the squad's first win of the season in 'The Gary B' Mountune-powered Ford Focus ST.

Tough weekend for Fabrizio Giovanardi during round 7 of the BTCC at Knockhill

In-between torrential showers Saturday's qualifying session produced an interesting set of results for the Airwaves drivers. Racing against the inclement weather, Mat secured a strong P7 for Sunday's opening race. Unfortunately, Fabrizio's posted time was removed due to an infringement and the Italian had to contend with P19.

Sunday's first race opened up well for both Airwaves drivers as Mat and Fabrizio cleanly worked their way through the tightly packed field. Despite coming under constant pressure from a charging Turkington in the BMW as the duo battled for position with Plato's MG, Mat pressed forward pushing former BTCC champion Shedden hard to bring the #6 Focus home in P4, narrowly missing out on podium finish. Further down the pack, Fabrizio managed to carefully make his way through the drama and traffic to cross the line in a solid P13.

Mat Jackson celebrates a return to the top step of the podium

The decision to run both Airwaves cars on the soft compound Dunlop tyre proved a prudent move during another frenetic action-packed race 2. With the leading order embroiled in a tangle during the opening lap, Mat took full advantage to close the gap on race leader Matt Neal. As the Airwaves man prepared to mount his challenge on the Honda, Neal was given a drive through penalty thus handing the lead position to Mat. The #6 Focus remained untroubled for the remainder of the race and the Airwaves Racing team was rewarded with a long overdue maiden race win of the season with a commanding 1.6 second lead. Fabrizio had an epic battle of his own sandwiched between the two WSR BMW's of Turkington and Collard for the majority of the race and the #7 Focus ended in a respectable P9.

Maiden race win for 'The Gary B' #6 Ford Focus ST

The final race of the day looked set to deliver another set of strong results for Airwaves Racing with Fabrizio and Mat placed in P2 and P10 following the reversed grid draw. Disappointingly, the results didn't go the team's way with both Airwaves cars suffering unavoidable race damage that impacted significantly on the duo's progress. After what looked to be a likely podium finish, Fabrizio came under some heavy on track contact that saw the double BTCC champion drop down the order before an almighty shunt from Matt Neal forced the #6 Focus back into the pits to record a DNF. Mat struggled through the last half of the race with a straight line speed issue caused by damage to the #7 Focus sustained in the early laps. Added to the 45kg of success ballast that Focus had on board, the 32 year old could only manage to secure a P17 finish.

Crabbie's Racing team-mate Jack Clarke celebrated his best weekend to date in the BTCC with two points scoring finishes in last two races of the day. The BTCC rookie's hard work and tenacity during the first half of the season was rewarded with a P13 and P14 with the former F2 driver enjoying some outstanding racing in the #44 Crabbie's backed Focus.

Crabbie's Racing and Jack Clarke enjoy best BTCC weekend to dateThe weekend also brought further cause for celebration for David Bartrum's Kent based squad with customer team AMD celebrating their first podium in the Motorbase built Ford Focus ST. Inverness based AMD driver Dave Newsham delighted the home crowd with two top ten finishes and a further podium in the final race of the day.

With Mat Jackson being the second highest points scorer of the weekend, the results see the Airwaves man move into second place in the Independents drivers' standings and sixth overall. A healthy haul of points also means Airwaves Racing maintains its fourth place position in the overall teams' whilst moving up into second in the Independent teams' standings. The championship now has a short two week break before reconvening at Rockingham for round 8 on September 6/7.

Team Manager Oly Collins said:
"An absolutely fantastic win for Mat in race two and a great reward for the whole team. It's been far too long since we've had that winning feeling, but it's hugely satisfying for everyone involved.  Mat's been really on it all weekend again and continued to show his class. Unfortunately Fabrizio's weekend didn't quite go to plan but he has shown some pace this weekend so onwards and upwards. Jack had some great results today as well which is great for him and the team. The team were also hugely proud of AMD's result with Motorbase's first customer car podium."

Airwaves Racing driver Mat Jackson said:
"We've had a bit of a lean spell and come very close a number of times so to finally round it off with a win in race two, and a convincing win at that, is mega. Overall we're very happy.  The team have done an awesome job with the car; it's been fantastic all weekend.

"I'm very much looking forward to getting to Rockingham and getting back into the top 4 of the championship. We're close now, we've just got to be consistent and keep plugging away. The car seems to be in a good window at the moment so hopefully we'll move forward again at Rockingham and be in a good place for more wins. That's what we've got to target now."

Airwaves Racing driver Fabrizio Giovanardi said:
"I think I was in the wrong position on the wrong tyres for the last race, with everyone around me on the soft tyre. I had a good start to the race and was trying to overtake Foster but then Collard came inside quite hard at the hairpin and made big contact. After that moment I really found it difficult to stop the cars coming through. So after that I don't know if we had a problem with the car, but the other cars were just overtaking me so easily. Then Matt Neal hit my rear wheel and it was game over. It was a very hard last race. The car was really good in the second race but obviously starting at the back at Knockhill is always hard."

Crabbie's Racing driver Jack Clarke said:
"The weekend has been a marked improvement and we are going in the right direction. We didn't luck into too many positions and our pace on the soft tyre was very competitive and encouraging. We are always consistently quick at the end of a race, whereas tyre degradation seems to be high for a lot of other teams, which means we can start to pick off other drivers towards the end.

"It was a positive and enjoyable weekend and to be racing literally right in the middle of the pack is good fun racing. Knockhill is a really cool track and I enjoyed the weekend and atmosphere immensely."

Event Information:
Knockhill Circuit length: 1.30 miles
Laps: 24
Race distance: 31.20 miles
Knockhill Racing Circuit Limited, Dunfermline, Fife KY12 9TF
Tel: 01383 723337