Mat Jackson is the latest British Touring Car Championship driver to announce he’ll be competing at this month’s Silverstone Classic (20-22 July). The 31-year-old multiple BTCC race winner has confirmed he’ll contest the Under 2 Litre Touring Car race for saloon cars from the Sixties – a race dedicated to the memory of legendary race team boss Alan Mann who passed away earlier this year.
Warwickshire’s Jackson will swap his 300bhp front-wheel-drive Redstone Racing BTCC Ford Focus for a 130bhp rear-wheel-drive Ford Lotus Cortina carrying the famous red and gold Alan Mann Racing livery which he’ll share with Mann’s son Henry in the spectacular two-driver, 50-minute showdown which will take place on Saturday morning. A mammoth grid of 50-plus cars is expected to line up on the grid with a fierce scrap anticipated between the Lotus Cortinas, BMW 1800Tis, Alfa Romeo GTAs and Mini Coopers.
Jackson’s Ford connections, though, extend beyond driving a Focus in the BTCC. For three generations his family has run a Ford dealership in Henley-in-Arden and in the Sixties his father Tony worked for Broadspeed – one of Alan Mann Racing’s biggest rivals!
Jackson commented: “I’ve tested the Cortina and it made me feel like Jim Clark – I was up on three wheels through every corner which felt strange but very exciting
“With the Cortina there’s the lack of grip with cross-ply tyres, the all-round vision isn’t great, there’s a lot of whining from the four-speed manual gearbox and the brakes are, how shall we say, vague… I absolutely love it!”
And he added: “I cannot wait for the Classic – it’s certainly up there with the British Grand Prix and Goodwood as one of British motor sport’s ‘blue riband’ events. I’m quite optimistic about our chances and Henry’s fairly rapid but let’s wait and see who’s on the final entry list. It’s going to be quite a little adventure being in among a grid of that size. Hopefully I’ve not painted a target on my car like it sometimes feels in the BTCC…”
Mann, who away from motor sport runs his own record label in East London, added: “It’ll be very exciting to race alongside Mat. The level of technique he will bring… it’ll be very interesting to see what he can do in the car.
“These classic racing cars require considerable mechanical sympathy and Mat clearly demonstrated he’s got that during our test. He also made chassis improvements and suggestions about tyre pressures which bode well. Plus he’s just an all-round good bloke – very unassuming in fact and very helpful with everyone in the team. My best result at the Classic so far is sixth and obviously with Mat on board it’d be great if I can improve to the podium, particularly in this of all races.”
Two more stars from the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship also are set to race on Classic weekend. Audi ace Rob Austin, who has also landed a role in Ron Howard’s forthcoming movie ‘Rush’ about James Hunt and Niki Lauda’s battles in F1 in the Seventies, is planning an entry in the Grand Prix Masters race in his 1976 ex-Alan Jones Surtees DS9. Dynojet Toyota racer Frank Wrathall is entered in the ex-Richard Kaye ‘super touring’ Vauxhall Cavalier in the two Fujifilm Touring Car Trophy races for touring cars from the 1970s-1990s.
Adult tickets for 2012’s Silverstone Classic powered by the AA (20-22 July) cost from as little as £35 and special two- and three-day weekend tickets are also available with savings of up to 20 per cent if purchased in advance. Full details are available via the event’s official www.silverstoneclassic.com website.