THERE was plenty for Henley race ace Mat Jackson and his Motorbase Performance team to celebrate at the British Touring Car Championship season finale at Brands Hatch on Sunday.
Securing both the Independent Teams’ and Independent Drivers’ titles in front of a delighted home crowd, the Wrotham-based outfit commemorated its 11th year on the BTCC grid in perfect winning style as Jackson claimed the team’s seventh race win of the season during the nail-biting season climax.
An unprecedented eight drivers headed into the final weekend in contention for the UK’s most coveted motorsport crown, with Jackson in fifth place and the only independent driver featuring within the title challengers.
With the battle for the overall title coming down to the final race of the season, Jackson’s race three win saw the DUO-backed driver end the season in third place overall – the highest-placed Independent driver – just 16 points behind champion Gordon Shedden.
In the Teams Championship Motorbase took a creditable third place overall behind the BMW and Honda manufacturer-backed outfits, ending the season just 34 points off title winners Team JCT600.
Even more remarkable was the 161-point lead over their nearest rivals in the Independent Teams standings.
A disappointing qualifying session on Saturday left Jackson languishing down in 20th for Sunday’s opening race but he battled his way through the closely fought pack in race one and eventually brought the #7 Focus home in P11.
Jackson’s charge forward continued in race two and the 35-year-old pushed his way through to take seventh at the chequered flag.
Starting from pole following the reverse grid draw, an expertly controlled drive from Jackson in the #7 Focus saw the Motorbase man claim a superb lights to flag victory in the final race of the season – recording a 25th outright win for Motorbase and his 30th BTCC career win.
The weekend topped off Motorbase’s most successful BTCC campaign to date after an incredible year that saw drivers Jackson and Andrew Jordan amass an impressive tally of seven outright race wins, seven outright podiums, 15 Independent race wins and 21 Independent podiums between them in the mountune-powered Ford Focus STs.
Jackson also jointly tops the table of most race wins this season with five to his name having also led the most laps during 2016.
Jackson said: “We had issues in qualifying which put us on the back foot and unfortunately that set us up for a difficult weekend. The GP circuit is a hard place to overtake on so to get back to where we did is a great result and a great effort from everyone in the team.
“The car was phenomenal in the last race and it’s great to go out with a win and also to have taken our first Teams’ trophy at the end of an interesting season.
“We’ve made big steps forward this year having two cars scoring big which is what you need to win a title in the BTCC, so it’s fantastic for that hard work to have paid off.
“When you come as close as we did to clinching the overall title you always look at the ones that got away and the missed opportunities, but we can’t look back, it’s all about learning and moving forward.
“The car has been on the money this year and the boys have given me one of the most reliable cars on the grid so we just need to build a little bit on our consistency and come back stronger for the fight next year.”
The 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season begins with the pre-season media launch at Donington Park on March 16 before the season opener on the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit on April 1/2.