Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Beavis Morgan sponsored Ollie Jackson endured a tough weekend for rounds 7,8 and 9 of the 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton, battling back from a derailed start to the weekend to climb back into the points on the Hampshire circuit (May 18/19).
After struggling to find the critical ‘sweet spot’ on the Ford Focus RS during Saturday’s practice sessions, the Motorbase-run outfit made dramatic set-up changes to its two title challengers heading in the afternoon qualifying run.
Unfortunately, any hopes of a strong result were thwarted in the final moments of the session, when Mark Blundell ran Tom Chilton the barriers on the final chicane with just over 4 minutes remaining on the clock. The #3 Focus sustained heavy damage, requiring an overnight rebuild for Sunday’s race day.
Starting from P22 with 36kg of championship ballast on-board, Tom made steady progress in an uncharacteristically processional opening BTCC race to eventually cross the line in P18. Ollie fared better in the #48 Focus, making up 3 places to take 16th at the flag, finishing just outside of the points-scoring zone.
Free of the success ballast for race 2, Tom battled hard over the 16 laps to eventually take P13 at the final flag. Unfortunately, having been deemed as exceeding track limits by the race officials, an amended race result for the Reigate-racer saw the #3 Focus RS relegated back to P25 for the final grid of the day.
Ollie’s promising start to the day went sadly unrewarded in race 2. After moving up into the top 15 on the opening lap, the #48 Focus RS took a heavy hit from Smiley’s Honda as the pair charged through the final chicane on lap 3, resulting in a puncture for Ollie and leaving the Ford stricken for the remainder of the race.
The final race of the day finally delivered some small reward for the team. The Motorbase duo made an outstanding start from the back of the grid, making up numerous places on the opening lap before the safety car was called into action. Both drivers continued their run in the interrupted contest, with Tom ultimately breaking into the points to finish in P13, and Ollie in P16 as the final flag dropped.
Although a challenging weekend, the squad leaves the Hampshire circuit with a mass of data under its belt ahead of the return visit to Thruxton in August. The BTCC has a four week break in the calendar before reconvening at Croft circuit in North Yorkshire on June 15/16.
Team Manager Oly Collins:
“Unfortunately, Thruxton just wasn’t our weekend. Saturday didn’t go to plan and when you start back where we were it’s difficult. We improved the car performance for each of the races and both drivers were looking good for a much better race 2 result which can salvage a weekend like this, with a reverse grid, but it wasn’t to be.
“We have to learn from the mistakes from this weekend and we’ll come back stronger at Croft.”
#3 Tom Chilton:
“It’s nice to end a tough weekend with a much faster car than we started with, and to have scored some points. Actually for me personally, race 3 was a little bit of a high as I went from the back of the grid to 13th.
“We made more set-up changes to the car which worked, and we made a big leap forwards in pace. We’ve still got a fraction more to find, but what we have unlocked will put us in good stead for the next round and also for when we come back here in a few months’ time. We have completely transformed the car this weekend, and all credit to the team and especially to Pete, my number, who has worked incredibly hard.”
#48 Ollie Jackson:
“It’s been a pretty disappointing weekend. Being honest we’ve struggle for pace all weekend. We’ve started to get a glimpse of hope on how to fix as we’ve reached the end of the weekend but unfortunately it was too late to salvage it. We’ve learnt a lot about the car and the hard tyre and I that’s the positive to take forwards. I’ve found I need to push on myself as well and we just need to find the magic that we’re missing on the hard tyre at the moment.”
Photo credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography