Mat Jackson and Martin Depper both picked up solid points finishes in the eye-catching Ford Focus STs, with BTCC rookie Luke Davenport making a promising debut taking 2, second-place Jack Sears Trophy finishes during Sunday’s three races.
An interrupted qualifying session on Saturday set the tone for the weekend. All three Ford’s ran in the top 12 during the opening laps and the Motorbase-run outfit looked set to be challenging for a top 5 start before two red flag incidents and a sudden downpour halted proceedings. Unfortunately, in spite of showing positive early pace, the disruptions caught the trio on the back foot and Jackson, Depper and Davenport ended the session in P14, P24 and P17.
Sunday’s opening race was halted almost as soon as the flag dropped as Turkington and Neal ran into each-other as the grid roared off the start line. The restart saw Jackson deliver another of his trademark starts and the 35-year-old had worked his way up into P8 by the third tour of the circuit. Battling with the works-BMW, Jackson managed to pass Jordan to take P7 before a late lunge by Collard relegated the #3 Focus to P8 with two laps left to run. Depper made excellent progress through the packed field, piloting the #30 Focus into the points – taking P15 for his first points finish of the campaign with Davenport bringing the #300 Ford home in P19 – the second placed rookie on the grid.
Another huge crash on the start-finish line ended Depper’s race 2 chances of progressing further up the grid. With Plato’s Subaru heading into the pit wall as the flag dropped, flying debris punctured the radiator on the #30 Focus forcing the Solihull driver into early retirement. Following a short delay, a new race was declared and Jackson charged off the line once more before expertly guiding the #3 through the pack – delivering one of the highlights of the weekend in the final lap as he snatched 6th place from Jordan by just 0.015 seconds as the pair stormed across the finish line. Sadly Davenport’s encouraging run was also brought to an abrupt end on lap 12 following heavy contact to the #300 Focus ST.
An amended result from race 2 saw Jackson promoted to P5, with the reverse grid draw slotting the #3 Focus into P4 for the final race of the day. A strong start off the line saw Jackson take on the race leaders as they headed down into Paddock Hill. Seeing an opportunity to challenge Chilton’s factory-backed Vauxhall for P2, he made a bold move around the outside and looked set to pull it off before slight contact knocked the Focus off track and into the gravel. Jackson did well to recover, albeit having dropped down the order, but a determined performance was rewarded with a P13 finish – recording points in all three races.
Depper and Davenport endured their own battles from the back of the grid. Coming through the rear-guard, the duo fended off robust challenges to eventually cross the line in P22 and P20 respectively.
The Team Shredded Wheat Racing with DUO squad now has a short two-week break before the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship reconvenes at Donington Park in Leicestershire on April 15-16.
Team Manager Oly Collins said:
“A weekend of promise unfortunately didn’t turn out the results we hoped for. Qualifying didn’t go our way, it was one of those sessions where some people were lucky and some unlucky purely through the timings of the red flag.
“Mat was looking good for a strong points haul after two good results in races 1 and 2. Race 3 was almost great, but ultimately his bold move didn’t come off; a great recovery drive though. Martin was extremely unlucky in race 2 after a good points finish in race one and Luke endured a tough debut being a victim of someone else’s accident. We had good race pace today and we’ll go to Donington looking for some better results.”
Mat Jackson #3 said:
“Qualifying was very mixed, conditions weren’t good and unfortunately we got on the wrong end of it in P14 which meant we had a big job to do on Sunday. It was frustrating after the potential of a top 6. P14 is a tough place to come through from against this grid and we did well to pick up a reasonable set of points in the first two races.
“Starting from P4, we had a good chance at a podium for the final race. I got a great start past Cook and was quicker off the line than Chilton and tried to go around the outside going into Paddock, but then I just got a tap in the door which put me in the marbles and forced me wide so from then on it was a recovery drive to try and salvage something. Not ideal and not a great way to end the weekend, but overall it’s been a bit up and down for everyone. We’ll make sure we go to Donington Park with a car that can capitalise on what we’ve learnt this weekend.”
Martin Depper #30 said:
“Not quite the start that we wanted but it was good for me to learn more about the car and I think we’re only going to get stronger from here. We were a lot stronger than that pace showed this weekend. Race 2 was a shame, starting in 15th I was pretty confident that we would have been able to move up and work towards to strong finish for the final race of the day. Starting from the back is always difficult – it either goes your way or it doesn’t – and the battling in the mid-pack hampered our pace in race 3. It’s all new learnings though and we’ll take them into the next rounds at Donington.”
Luke Davenport #300 said:
“It seems to be the small things that let me down this weekend which will all come with experience and time in the car. We had the pace in the car; it was mainly the starts held me back this weekend but they’ll come with time. We just missed out on a Jack Sears Trophy win in the last race which was frustrating, as I was pushed off the line. So we were nearly there and it’s a bit of what could have been, however, it’s fired me up for Donington and I think with a stronger qualifying performance we should be on for some better results.