Redstone Racing has reignited its challenge for the Independents title after a solid weekend of results during round 8 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship. Both Redstone drivers showed true grit during an action packed weekend at Rockingham, keeping their heads in difficult track conditions to deliver five top six finishes for the team.
A mixed result for the Motorbase run-team during qualifying ended with Mat Jackson securing the new NGTC’s highest placed qualifying spot of 4th position with a little over three minutes remaining on the clock. In contrast, team-mate Aron Smith struggled with the set-up on his S2000 Focus and could only muster 16th place for the first of Sunday’s three races.
A storming start off the line by Jackson in the opening race saw the #4 NGTC Focus slot straight into second position by the first corner, however, it would prove to be short lived as the Redstone man came under increasing pressure from the pack and was forced back into 4th place. With the race leaders pulling further ahead, Jackson chased Shedden’s Honda for the remainder of the race, but was unable to catch the Scotsman – narrowly missing out on a trip to the podium. Further back in the field, Aron had worked his S2000 Focus up a number of places before an over-zealous move by Jeff Smith’s Pirtek Honda despatched the Irishman into the gravel and out for the remainder of the race.
After a swift recovery and recoup, both Jackson and Smith joined the grid for the start of the second race in torrential conditions in P4 and P20 respectively. In spite of an issue with his wipers affecting visibility throughout the race, Jackson managed to maintain his 4th place position, collecting the new Mountune-powered NGTC Focus ST’s maiden independent trophy in the process.
BTCC rookie and Motorsport Ireland's Young Driver of the Year Aron Smith produced arguably the drive of the season. After coming from last placed P20 on the grid to battle his way through the tough BTCC field, the Redstone man proved that he’s more than capable to mix it amongst the BTCC stalwarts - bringing his S2000 Focus across the line in sixth place. The reverse grid draw for the final race of the day resulted in a ‘flip’ for the Redstone Racing team with Aron Smith slotted into fourth place and team-mate Jackson dropping back into sixth. Smith’s brave charge off the line was rewarded with a second place spot heading into the first corner, closely followed by Jackson, before race leader Hughes lost control - spinning off and handing the lead to the Smith for a brief Redstone Racing 1-2. The Redstone Racing 1-2 was however not to be as Jackson wrestled to keep the NGTC Focus on track and lost control, dropping to the back of the field. Smith built up a good lead on the pack until the deployment of the safety car following Jeff Smith’s heavy crash in the third lap allowed the Honda’s to catch up on the young Irishman.
Smith put up a gallant fight following the restart, managing to hold off the Honda’s and MG for a number of laps, however, as the race continued the NGTC cars piled on the pressure and Smith’s S2000 did well to deliver a fifth place finish for the team and another strong performance for the young driver. Jackson struggled with grip in difficult conditions with the NGTC sliding precariously on a number of occasions before coming into its own in the closing laps to allow Jackson to work his way up to follow his Redstone team mate across the line in sixth. All in all it was a solid weekend for Redstone Racing, with good results for the Kent-based squad albeit just missing out on that elusive podium once again. The weekend’s results have allowed the team to close the gap on the Independent team standings and put Redstone back in the fight for the title once more.
The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship now takes a short two week break before getting underway once again for the penultimate round at Silverstone on the 6/7th October.