Silverstone hosted the penultimate round the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship last weekend with the championship still wide open and important points up for grabs.
There are still 8 drivers in with a chance of taking the championship which led to a weekend of fantastic racing all the way down the field with the weather conditions during qualifying mixing up the grid nicely for the first BTCC race of the day. Support for Ollie Jackson and the Cobra Sport / AmDTuning.com race team was demonstrated by the ever growing display of official team wear and t-shirts worn in the packed Silverstone grandstands.
The team headed it Silverstone on the back of a highly successful weekend at Rockingham where technical improvements to the car moved the Audi S3 up the field running firmly on the back of the leading pack in amongst the championship contenders. Race weekend started well with Ollie recording the 13th fastest time in free practice and entering the qualifying session in a positive mood.
The program of testing and development of the S3 throughout the season continued at Silverstone. Unfortunately the changes applied before qualifying lead to handling issues during the session leading to Ollie recording a time only 1 second off pole but down in 24th place for race one showing the competitiveness of the 2016 BTCC line up.
With the handling issues ironed out overnight, an aggressive start off the line saw Ollie battling his way forwards through the pack; dicing with the works Subarus and title-leading BMWs in a train of cars fighting for the points scoring positions.
Having taken the flag in 16th, Ollie was then promoted to 14th position post-race when both MG drivers were excluded from the results due to a rear wing infringement. Scrutineering of all other cars on the grid was carried out during the afternoon by TOCA officials. Race two again showed the improved pace from the Audi S3 with Ollie Jackson running much higher up the grid keeping up with and attacking the leading group of cars.
Having made his was up to and maintaining a position for a second points finish of the day, a forceful final lap move from championship contender Matt Neal desperate to collect all possible points moved Ollie down to P16 outside of the points places.
Inspection of the car back in the garage showed one of the tyres to be heavily worn suggesting further the pace possible from the Audi once the setup has been further perfected to protect the tyres. Early contact from the Honda of Jeff Smith in race three which resulted in a post race verbal warning for Smith, ended Ollie's hopes of more points in race three.
A recovery and fightback up through the pack during the race showed the improved pace in the S3 enabling Ollie to take the chequered flag in P17.
“It's almost good to be disappointed that we only got one points finish from the weekend, as we certainly could have scored in all three," he said.
“A lot of it came down to qualifying where we were lower than we should have been, but we fought back well on Sunday and made the most of the strong race pace in the car."
“Race one went well and it looked like we could add to the points in race two until the closing laps when we just missed out. In the final race, there were certainly points to be had before Jeff Smith tried to use me as a brake at the end of the straight and dropped me right down the order. The fact that I fought back to 17th with a damaged car, and was able to lap as quick as the front-runners, showed what might have been."
Team boss Shaun Hollamby said he was pleased with the performance on track, although he shared in Ollie's disappointment at the missed points.
“The pace in the car has been good once again this weekend and we certainly could have taken more than a single points finish,"he said.
“Ollie race day performance has been strong and it's only because of the driving of others that we haven't been able to score in all three races; particular in the final one where he was as quick as the guys at the front."
“Having shown our improvement in the past two meetings, hopefully we can now continue to build on it and go to Brands Hatch in a few weeks and end the season on a high."
The BTCC season finale takes place around the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit over the weekend of the 1st & 2nd of October.
Top image courtesy of: Marc Waller Photography