The flag dropped on the 2017 BTCC season at Brands Hatch recently, and a weekend of promise unfortunately didn’t turn out the results we had hoped for. Qualifying didn’t go our way, with two red flag incidents and a heavy downpour playing havoc with all three drivers’ laps – despite looking to be on for a top 5 start! It was one of those sessions where some people were lucky and some unlucky, purely through the timings of the red flag. Unfortunately for us, we were some of the unlucky ones on this occasion, with Jackson, Depper and Davenport ending the session in P14, P24 and P17.
But we dusted ourselves down and were keen to get underway for Race 1 on Sunday. But drama is never too far away in the BTCC, and the race was stopped almost immediately after it had started. The restart saw Mat Jackson deliver another of his trademark starts, having worked his way up to P8 by lap 3. He then passed Andrew Jordan’s BMW for P7, before a late lunge from Rob Collard relegated the #3 Focus to P8 again with two laps to go.
Race 2 was just as interesting for Jackson, fighting his way through the pack before a photo-finish saw Mat cross the line just 0.015 seconds ahead of Jordan in P6 – a result that was later promoted to P5 after an amended Race 2 result. “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,” Mat explains, “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.” His heroic drive saw the #3 Focus come home in P13, securing a points-scoring finish in all three races. “Not ideal and not a great way to end the weekend, but overall it’s been a bit up and down for everyone,” reflects Mat, “We’ll make sure we go to Donington Park with a car that can capitalise on what we’ve learnt this weekend.”
Jackson’s teammates, Depper and Davenport, had equally as many ups and downs in their first races for the Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo debuts too. Race 1 saw both drivers making good progress through the pack, with Depper securing a P15 finish and earning his first points of the 2017 campaign, with Davenport coming home in P19, the second placed rookie and earning valuable points in the Jack Sears Trophy too.
Race 2, however, was a bit more eventful, but for all the wrong reasons! A huge crash on the startline saw debris puncture the radiator on Martin Depper’s #30 car, ending his race, while heavy contact to Luke Davenport’s #300 Focus on lap 12 meant neither driver was able to finish.
Both drivers were back out for the final race of the day though, and 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 P20 (Davenport) and P22 (Depper).
We have had time to reflect and the whole team agrees we have more pace in all three cars than we were able to show on the opening weekend, but we’ll go to Donington looking for a stronger qualifying performance and ultimately better race results too…