Audi squad looking to maintain top ten championship position
Tamworth racer Ollie Jackson chasing strong home points on landmark weekend
Northampton rookie Sam Smelt out to continue BTCC education
THE AmD with Cobra Exhausts team will look to build on a strong start to the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season when the series heads for Donington Park this weekend for the second meeting of the year.
The West Thurrock-based team proved to be one of the surprise packages of the opening rounds of the year at Brands Hatch earlier this month – mastering challenging wet conditions to secure a first podium finish in more than three years.
That podium came after Ollie Jackson made the most of an inspired call to run slick tyres in changing conditions in the second race of the weekend – with the 33-year-old responding with the best result of his BTCC career to date.
A third place finish was one of three strong points finishes in Kent, which means the Tamworth-based driver goes into his home meeting having already scored half of his points tally from the 2017 season.
More points are very much the aim this weekend, with Ollie also preparing to celebrate his 150th start in the series; a landmark he is scheduled to reach in the opening race on Sunday morning.
Rookie team-mate Sam Smelt achieved his aim at Brands Hatch as he successfully picked up three finishes at the wheel of the sister Audi S3.
The 21-year-old from Northampton only made his car racing debut last year and will continue on the steep learning curve that is his maiden year of touring car competition at a circuit where he has never raced in the past.
As at Brands Hatch, Sam will seek to maximise the track time available this weekend to gain as much additional knowledge and experience as possible whilst also looking to push his way forwards towards the top 20 for the first time.
Ollie Jackson, #48 Audi S3, said:
“We’re coming off a great weekend at Brands Hatch and my confidence is high going to Donington Park. We showed great pace throughout race day last time out, and hopefully we can build on that during the weekend ahead and challenge for some more strong results.
“There is no reason at all why we can’t be looking to score points in all three races and it would be great if we could break into the top ten. If that put us in a position to benefit from the reverse grid, then who knows what might happen, as I think we shown that we now have a really strong car in the Audi.
“Whilst we can’t expect to be fighting for the podium as we did at Brands Hatch, we need to try and score as many points as we can to maintain our good start to the year.”
Sam Smelt, #23 Audi S3, said:
“I’m adopting a similar approach to Brands Hatch and my aim is to keep making progress to work my way forwards. I now know how a BTCC race weekend works so there are no shocks and surprises ahead for me in that respect, and I can look forward to trying to get another three solid finishes under my belt.
“I was able to get some good running during the Media Day test last month at Donington which will be beneficial to me this weekend and I’ll also be spending some time on the simulator to help prepare.
“It’s hard to make a prediction about what kind of results I can hope to achieve, but I want to get amongst it on race day and see how things pan out.”
Shaun Hollamby, team principal, said:
“Brands Hatch was a great weekend and to see Ollie bring home a podium finish exceeded all of our expectations. It means we can go into round two in confident mood and hopefully we can enjoy another strong weekend on track.
“To score a podium again at Donington Park will be a big ask, but we know that we have a quick car in the Audi and there is no reason at all why we can’t look to fight for some good points in all three races.
“That certainly has to be the target for Ollie, whilst the focus for Sam has to be to build on the knowledge and experience he gained at Brands Hatch to continue making forward progress.”