Jackson claims fourth reverse-grid win to steal series lead

Race three was a familiar story as Mat Jackson took the victory in the final race of the day for the fourth time of the season, taking the championship lead as an added bonus.

The start of the race was led away by reverse-grid pole man Dave Newsham in the STR SEAT Leon, ahead of Jackson and Paul O’Neill, after which Jackson found his way past the SEAT early on the second lap of the race to take the lead.

As O’Neill fought with the more powerful Leon of Newsham over second place, Jackson was able to pull a two-second gap, and by the time O’Neill finally managed to pressure Newsham into braking too late at the Montreal Hairpin, Jackson was long gone.

The pair then started to set similar lap times for the rest of the race, Jackson going on to take the victory by 3.340s from fans favourite Paul O’Neill in a popular second place in the Techspeed Chevrolet Cruze.

“Its great for the team and we make it hard for ourselves so its nice to come away with another win” said Jackson to ITV4. “From what looked like a difficult weekend has turned out to be a really good weekend. The 45 kilos (for leading the series) is going to hurt next time out!”

A happy Paul O’Neill in second place (after celebrating by robot dance in pit lane…) told ITV4: “It’s been such a long break but my word the people at Techspeed and my family and everyone have just been briliant, I’m just so pleased.”

Rookie Newsham earned his respect with a gutsy drive by hanging onto the final podium spot for the majority of the race ahead of the two Silverline Chevrolets until the penultimate lap, when Jason Plato made a decisive cutback move exiting the Brundle/Nelson’s esses to slip past the yellow SEAT into third place, and claim another handful of points in a strong and important weekend for Plato.

Matt Neal was again forced to battle through the field but this time managed to do so without drama, and showed how quick he is with a superb drive to fourth place, passing Newsham around the outside at Brundle corner to snatch the place and claw back some lost points, ahead of Alex MacDowall who Neal passed on the front straight on the penultimate lap, and James Nash in the Triple Eight Vauxhall Vectra.

His team-mate Gordon Shedden lost the championship lead that he had claimed from race two as he struggled with the ballast in his Honda Civic. His cause wasn’t helped when he damaged his car by clipping the tyre stack exiting Williams, resulting in him being briefly shown the black/orange flag and ordered to pit for repairs.

He avoided this cheekily by running wide and clipping the same tyre stack on purpose to successfully remove the offending piece of bodywork, passing the unlucky Newsham on the run to the flag for seventh after Newsham ran wide at the final corner struggling for grip in his tyres.

Behind Newsham in eighth, Nick Foster finished ninth, and Rob Austin claimed his first BTCC points in the Audi after surviving a lap one tangle with Jackson’s team-mate Liam Griffin that saw the Ford end up in the barriers.

The first lap of the race claimed Independent championship contender Andrew Jordan from the top 10, after contact from Rob Collard at Hamilton corner sent the Vauxhall into a spin across the front of the BMW.

Jackson now leads the standings for the first time in 2011 after the sixth event of the season on 158 points, ahead of Shedden (150), Neal dropping to third (148), the recovering Plato fourth (138) and Nash fifth on 127 as the next event takes place at Knockhill for rounds 19, 20 and 21 of the series on September 3/4.

Race 3 results:

 1. Mat Jackson      Motorbase Ford          24m16.307s
2. Paul O’Neill     Tech-Speed Chevrolet     + 3.340s
3. Jason Plato      Chevrolet                + 6.740s
4. Matt Neal        Honda                    + 9.117s
5. Alex MacDowall   Chevrolet               + 10.770s
6. James Nash       Triple 8 Vauxhall       + 11.087s
7. Gordon Shedden   Honda                   + 11.933s
8. Dave Newsham     Special Tuning SEAT     + 12.084s
9. Nick Foster      WSR BMW                 + 14.507s
10  Rob Austin       Austin Audi             + 15.888s
11. Tom Onslow-Cole  Arena Ford              + 17.568s
12. Rob Collard      WSR BMW                 + 21.810s
13. Tom Chilton      Arena Ford              + 22.738s
14. Andrew Jordan    Eurotech Vauxhall       + 23.701s
15  Tony Gilham      Triple 8 Vauxhall       + 24.812s
16  Martyn Byford    AmD Volkswagen          + 29.800s 
17. Jeff Smith       Eurotech Vauxhall       + 33.267s   
18  Lea Wood         Central Honda           + 52.267s
19. Daniel Welch     Welch Proton          + 1m15.318s
DNF    Chris James      ES Racing Chevrolet        7 laps   
DNF    John George      Tech-Speed Chevrolet       4 laps
DNF    Andy Neate       Arena Ford                 1 laps
DNF    Liam Griffin     Motorbase Ford             0 laps

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