Flash has work cut out to maintain BTCC lead at Snetterton
- Credit: Archant
The British Touring Car Championship roll into Snetterton this weekend and Lewis Beales assesses what impact Matt Jackson can have with the Motorbase squad on the rest of the field
The big question facing the British Touring Car Championship contenders gathering at Snetterton this weekend is how will the returning Motorbase squad, led by multi-race winner Matt Jackson, impact on their chances of lifting the trophy at the end of the season.
Jackson was quickest at the recent Snetterton test and looked equally as impressive as the title contenders before demonstrating that the new-look Ford Focus, and its new engine, was the class of the field.
'It's always nice to set the fastest time but it doesn't mean too much at this stage,' said Jackson. 'We got a great tow and it turned into a perfect qualifying lap, but to be honest we're just pleased to know we're there or thereabouts.
'We've missed being part of this grid, everyone has worked extremely hard, and now we just can't wait to start mixing it with these boys again.'
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Currently leading the standings by ten points is Gordon Shedden, inset, in the Yuasa Honda Civic and 'Flash', unlike the name he is universally known as in the paddock, is a master of using the race formats to steadily build up his points tally.
The bonus ballast for the leading contenders has risen his year, making it harder for the leading runners to qualify right at the front and race well in the opening event.
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With lap times from race one forming the grid for the second encounter it can be double jeopardy which saw Jason Plato start the opening race at Croft well behind the field in an effort to rid himself of weight and give himself a clear track to set a decent lap time.
Plato, driving for the BMR Volkswagen squad, is the opposite to Shedden with victories and podium places his aim which has stood the double title holder in good stead in previous Snetterton encounters for which he is an acknowledged master.
A little further behind in third place is the rejuvenated Matt Neal in the second Yuasa Honda Civic and while Snetterton has not always been kind to the tall former champion he is driving as well as ever and should never be discounted.
Reigning champion Colin Turkington has swapped his rear drive BMW for a BMR Volkswagen CC, teaming up with Plato, and has taken a while to adapt to front wheel drive.
Currently the Irishman is fifth in the standings so will need a strong start to the second half of the season if he is to retain his title.
The leading BMW racer, in fourth place, is Sam Tordoff who has raced better than his more experienced team mates Rob Collard and triple World Champion Andy Priaulx.
However, the BMWs proved to be woefully slow in a straight line at the recent mid-season test at Snetterton which, in the heat of battle, will provide plenty of opportunities for their rivals to challenge for their positions at the end of the long Snetterton straights.
Having left the comfort of his family run Eurotech team Andy Jordan now leads the Triple Eight MG squad and while he has amassed sufficient points for sixth place he has yet to taste victory, will this weekend be his first for the MG outfit?
Prediction time – Plato to amass sufficient points to take a lead to Knockhill in Scotland, Shedden's home track, with the latter aiming to keep his losses to a minimum while Jackson's pace should put him on the podium.