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Airwaves Racing takes hard fought points at Croft

July 1st 2014

Giovanardi's chance of a race 3 win was thwarted by a reckless challenge from Jordan

Airwaves Racing battled hard to claim a triad of valuable points finishes and a top 3 during an action-packed fifth round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) at North Yorkshire's Croft circuit over the weekend (28/29 June).

The Motorbase-run squad had its fair share of drama during the weekend's action that saw Mat and Fabrizio claim four strong top ten finishes despite both Airwaves Racing Mountune-powered Ford Focus ST's heading back to the Kent workshops sporting significant battle scars from the North East track.

An interrupted qualifying session on Saturday hampered the team's opportunity to show the true pace of the Ford's and despite being only 3 tenths off the top ten, the #6 and #7 ended the session in disappointing 15th and 18th positions.

With work to do to make their way through the busy mid-field, both Mat and Fabrizio sprinted off the line during Sunday's opening race. The Airwaves duo quickly made up places as the race unfolded with Mat settling into 9th position by the end of the first lap.  A solid performance followed as both Mat and Fabrizio showed impressive pace closing in on Team BMR rivals Menu and Smith, with Fabrizio managing to edge past Smith's Passat to end the race in 12th place with Mat taking 8th.

Airwaves Racing battled hard at North Yorkshire's Croft circuit to come away with 4 top ten finishesRace two followed a similar path as the Airwaves backed Ford's continued their quest towards to the championship's leading pack during an incident-filled race. Both Mat and Fabrizio showed true race winning race craft to pick their way further up the order for the #6 and #7 Focus ST's to claim another brace of top ten finishes with a solid P7 and P10 (later becoming P6 and P9).

A grid start reshuffle followed for the final race of the day with Fabrizio briefly claiming pole from the reverse grid draw before Matt Neal's Honda was judged to have failed the technical post-race checks and reordered the pack, assigning him to P2 with Mat on the third row in P5 (also gaining them both a position in results for race 2). From the off, race 3 looked set to deliver some big on-track action as pole sitter Goff and Speedwork's driver Ingram tangled heading into the first corner, allowing Fabrizio to steal into the lead with Mat following his team-mate through to take third.

Jackson's hard work paid off and the Airwaves drivers now sits 6th in the overall standingsFabrizio's lead was short-lived however after a huge shunt from Jordan sent the #7 Focus careering across the track at over 120mph, forcing the Italian to take heroic evasive action to hang on to the Airwaves Focus and narrowly avoid a substantial crash. The resulting action relegated the double-BTCC champion into 18th place, where, despite his best efforts, the damage proved too much for the Focus to see out the remaining laps and Fabrizio reluctantly returned to the pits for the squad's first DNF of the season.

Mat had his own battles to contend with on track as first Collard and then Shedden pushed the Airwaves driver to the limits during a fairly reckless final race. Mat put in a first-rate drive, keeping his head and the Airwaves car intact to cross the line in P4. A result that was later promoted to P3 after Shedden was handed down a four second penalty for his contact with the Airwaves Racing Focus on the closing laps.

Crabbie's Racing's Jack Clarke is looking to maintain his 100% finishing record in the #44 FocusIt was a weekend of highs and lows for Crabbie's Racing with Jack Clarke claiming his best points finish so far in the championship on the same weekend as collecting his first ever DNF. The BTCC rookie fought back hard from a tough qualifying session to work his way through into a solid P17 finish in race 1. This was followed up with an epic drive by the 26 year-old in race 2, with the Crabbie's driver putting on an exciting show for the crowds as he battled his way up through the highly-competitive field to bring the #44 Focus home in P12. After the penalties handed out and subsequent grid reshuffle promoting Jack to P11; another point scoring result looked to be on the cards, unfortunately it wasn't too be as Jack made contact with the tyre wall, forcing the Crabbie's liveried car into early retirement with its maiden DNF.

The weekend's results mean that Mat has moved up into sixth position in the overall driver standings whilst Airwaves Racing maintains fourth place in the overall teams' standings and third in the Independent teams' standings. The BTCC now takes a five week summer break before reconvening in Norfolk for round six on the Snetterton 300 circuit on 2/3 August.

Team Manager Oly Collins said:
"All three drivers were outstanding today getting some really solid results. Race 3 is a case of what could have been for Fabrizio but for Andy Jordan's desperate move on lap 1! Mat showed his class as he so often does on race day and Jack had his most competitive weekend so far.

"I was disappointed for the guys to lose our 100% finishing record as we were the only team who could boast that this year, which we're all proud of but it was through nothing the team could have done. We have to work on our qualifying as that let us down this weekend."

Airwaves Racing driver Mat Jackson said:
"Given our qualifying performance, the race results we managed to rescue from the weekend's three races were brilliant for the team.

"We showed once again that we have good race pace. We still have a bit of work to do to be in line with the Honda's but we'll keep working on it over the summer break and hopefully make some ground up. Qualifying is where we really need to get the pace sorted – when we get that right, like we did at Thruxton – we can have a mega weekend. That's where we need to focus now."

Airwaves Racing driver Fabrizio Giovanardi said:
"Without the crash with Jordan in the final race, it could have been a completely different weekend for us. With Mat in third and possibly I could have taken the win for Motorbase but the accident with Jordan reversed that reality.

"He [Jordan] tried to say that I had a problem in the first lap; but even if that was true – you still have to brake. If you see someone in the middle of the track in front of you, you don't just drive through them. He hit me at about 120mph and I was very lucky it was not a really bad crash. If I'd had a problem, I would have moved to the side of the track."

Crabbie's Racing driver Jack Clarke said:
"I felt a bit disappointed with my Saturday performance but knew if I got my head down we could make places come race day.

"I had a really quick car in race trim and the car managed the Dunlop tyres really well throughout the weekend. I love driving here and I was delighted to make progress each race.

"In the final race with the soft tyres I felt even stronger as the car was quick, I was quick and the tyres held up. I made a mistake and hit a tyre stack on the chicane, I hold my hands up, it was a rookie error, I‘m still not used to having a big chassis around me!

"I was chuffed to be fighting towards the front, we weren't there by default and our times showed that. I am really looking forward to Snetterton and I know we can be quick there as well."

Event Information:
Croft Circuit length: 2.25miles
Laps: 15
Race distance: 33.75 miles
Address: Croft Circuit, Croft on Tees, North Yorkshire DL2 2PN 
Tel: 01325 721815