BTCC: Super 8 Mat Jackson
Mat Jackson will be hoping to overturn a 21 point deficit
(Photo from: www.btcc.net)
In this eight part series I will be looking at each of the eight drivers who have a mathematical chance of winning the 2016 British Touring Car Championship. The fourth part will be fifth placed Mat Jackson.
Mat Jackson returned to full time BTCC action this season after only competing for half of the 2015 season, after budget issues restricted Motorbase from competing for the whole season. Despite this Jackson did not seem to lose any of his talent in the hiatus as he went on to win four races in the final 15 rounds, a remarkable achievement.
For 2016, Jackson continued to race for Motorbase, having been a part of the team since 2010 under various guises and cars. Following his late season success the previous year, a lot was expected of Jackson and new teammate Andrew Jordan in 2016 and so far, both have delivered with both in the frame for the title going into the finale this weekend.
Despite an impressive but slightly slower start than expected start at Brands Hatch in which Jackson left with an eighth a fifth and a DNF, Donington was where he really came into his own, with an impressive victory in the opening race of the day followed by a second in race 2. This briefly saw Jackson lead the championship after round 5 however a fourteenth in the final race of the day on the unfavoured soft tyres saw him drop back to fifth.
Thruxton was a day of two halves for Jackson who could only achieve 21st in the opening race after a left front puncture in unseasonably hot conditions. However following a tidy drive to eighth in the second race of the day, it ensured he was on the front row for the final race of the day after the top nine were reversed. Jackson was able to take the lead by the first corner and from there he never looked back to take his second win of the season. This promoted Jackson back to fourth in the standings, only 11 points behind the lead.
However he was not able to carry this form into the next round at Oulton Park where he only achieved a sixteenth in the first race of the day, which was followed by a tenth and thirteenth in races 2 and 3. Despite scoring in the final two races, in comparison to his championship rivals, Oulton Park was one of Jackson’s most damaging weekends.
Jackson regained some of the ground he lost in the opening two rounds at Croft with an eighth and sixth however a second DNF of the season in the final race pushed him back once more, as once again his championship rival feared much better in the wet conditions.
Once the action returned after the summer break at Snetterton, Jackson was back on top form with a third in the first race of the day after a race long battle for the podium places. Jackson became the second driver of the year to win three races in the 2016 season having taken the lead on the first lap, twice. This was after the race was red flagged after a massive opening lap crash. It was another dominant win for Jackson. Yet again though, Jackson retired from the third race of the day after slowing down the Bentley Straight on lap 3.
Knockhill was another successful weekend for Jackson though, once again bouncing back from a third race retirement, finishing twelfth, sixth and then first in the final race of the day. In doing so, Jackson became the first man of 2016 to win four races during the season.
Rockingham was another strong weekend, as for the first time in 2016 Jackson finished in the top 10 in each of the three races of the day. This consistency is something that the Motorbase driver has lacked all season, which has cost him vital points in the championship race. An example of this would be that despite winning two more times than teammate Andrew Jordan and being on the podium three more times, he is only 10 points clear in the standings.
Despite this, he is only 21 points behind the lead and another strong and consistent weekend for Jackson, which would also have to include some ill fortune for those in front of him, could see him lift his first ever BTCC title.