Test results should help Speedworks to shine at home round


OLLIE Jackson is in optimistic mood ahead of Speedworks Motorsport’s home round at Oulton Park in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship this weekend.

He has tested twice – at Pembrey and then Donington Park – the Cheshire outfit’s NGTC-spec Toyota Avensis during the series’ spring break, the Attleborough ace’s first chance to drive the car outside of a race meeting.

It has proven time well spent, according to the 29-year-old.

He said: “The extra seat time has been a big help, because now I have a much better understanding of how the car behaves.

“We achieved a lot in those two days, both in terms of set-up and finding more speed.

“The things we tried, on the whole, worked well and has left everybody feeling pretty positive about Oulton Park.”

Jackson’s fortunes have fluctuated since he signed a deal to pilot Speedworks’ second Avensis just days before the campaign curtain-raiser at Brands Hatch in April.

He made a dream start, placing inside the top 10 at the end of race one, although only three finishes have followed in the eight sprints since.

“I don’t think that initial result was a fluke, more an indication of the circumstances,” said the Reigate-born racer.

“There were a lot of drivers racing a new car for the first time, whereas the Toyota has been around a little while. That said, it was great for me to get a result like that early on.

“I’ve had some fairly rotten luck since, plus we’ve had one or two struggles for speed.

“It’s been tough to change from being in the smallest car on the grid [Jackson competed in a S2000 Volkswagen Golf in 2012] to the biggest one.

“Making that adjustment in a stressful situation like a race meeting has resulted in mistakes when I’ve perhaps worked it too hard.

“That’s why the tests have been important, not only for me but the team too. I’ve been on a bit learning curve, but that’s the challenge of being a BTCC driver.”

Dave Newsham, who has claimed a top 10 result all but one of the races he has finished this season, shares his teammate’s brighter outlook.

He said: “It’s probably fair to say we have underachieved so far this season but I’ve a feeling that is about to change.

“Don't get me wrong; the series is probably the most competitive it has been for a long time, so beating the leading teams will still be a struggle. We can be confident we’ve closed the gap though.”

Newsham, based in Inverness, is no stranger to success at Oulton Park either; he was a double race-winner there en route to the Clio Cup title three years ago.

The 45-year-old heads to Cheshire placed eighth in the Independents Trophy.

He added: “It’s clear we’ve been off the pace and so needed to develop quickly. I think we have done.”

Oulton Park hosts three sprint races on Sunday, with each to be broadcast live on ITV4 and itv.com from 1130.

Words: Andy Simpson. Picture: Matt Sayle Photography.