Jackson targets more progress
Mat Jackson says he is keen to try and move forwards at Knockhill this weekend in his second Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship meeting with Redstone Racing's new NGTC-spec Ford Focus.
Jackson debuted the car at Snetterton without any previous testing and took a best finish of fourth on an encouraging first weekend on track.
Since then, the team has worked on the car during a day of running at Brands Hatch and Jackson said he was confident of fighting for victory in the near future with the car - even if Knockhill may come just a fraction too early.
"We totally exceeded all expectations at Snetterton," he said. "48 hours before the event we still didn't know if the car would make it and my older S2000 Focus was transported to the circuit as back-up. But then I got the phone call to say we were going for it and the team did a quite amazing job to get the car not just ready but prepared to a level which enabled it to run reliably and be competitive straight out of the box.
"The difference is immediate. We'd really wrung everything there was to wring from the S2000 car and within a lap I could feel the NGTC was going to move us on to the next level and now I can see what we've been fighting against up until this point. There's more grip, more stability, better braking and improved tyre wear. Good on David Bartrum and the Motorbase Performance people who are behind the Redstone Racing BTCC programme for making this happen.
"There was quite a bit else happening at Snetterton involving the three at the top of the table, Plato, Neal and Shedden but even then I still think we stole most of the headlines and really captured the public's imagination. We also achieved probably better results than if we'd been out in the S2000 car which is incredible. The whole team and all our great sponsors totally over delivered and it goes to show yet again that we are the most determined and close-knit outfit in the pit lane."
Jackson added that the team was only going to get quicker as it learns more about the new NGTC-spec machine.
"We can only get more competitive from here - it's a learning process about how the new car works and that began at Brands mid-week," he said." Again the car ran trouble-free and we learnt a lot. Knockhill is a very different kind of circuit to Snetterton so we need to keep our feet on the ground and mustn't get too excited - for example it often rains there and this car hasn't yet run in the wet. But after that comes a month's break and I'm confident when we get to Rockingham in late September we will be very competitive.
"The title might be realistically out of reach now but the other leading NGTC teams including Honda and MG should be worried. I'll have no qualms about mixing it up at the front if I sniff a win and I genuinely believe we will have the new NGTC Focus capable of challenging for race wins come Rockingham."