Podium Start to the Year for Jackson
Valentines weekend finally saw the much anticipated return of Warwick rally driver Matthew Jackson to action following a long off-season break. The 2016 season would see Matthew Jackson take to the wheel for his home prepared Nissan Micra in the BTRDA 1400 rally championship. Jackson’s 2016 season was given a boost at the end of the previous season when Matthew was awarded the prestigious 2300 Club John Easson Award for 2015. The youngster was hand selected as one of three hopefuls following a UK-wide application process and went on to impress the panel of judges during the final held in Preston, Lancashire to emerge a worthy winner.
Jackson who will be co-driven by Ammanfords Claire Williams will be looking to impress even further and to put the funding generously put forward by the John Easson Award judges to good use as they tackle a host of UK wide championships including Thomas Panels 1400 BTRDA, MSA English, Pirelli Welsh National Gravel and ANWCC Championships. The pair have also taken the last minute decision to tackle selected rounds of the FMP Rally Challenge. Despite their limited calendar within the FMP Challenge, Williams will look to emulate her successes of 2013 where she was simultaneously crowed the Overall and Junior FMP Champion.
Jackson and Williams kicked off the 2016 proceedings in the scenic seaside town of Llandudno, North Wales on the BTRDA championship opener, the Cambrian Rally. A favourite yet challenging rally that would test rally crews over 45 miles of classic Welsh gravel stages. With the chronic engine problems and limited time in the rally car over the last 12 months, the young crew were understandably anxious ahead of the event, but the nerves were soon settled and the cobwebs blown away on the opening stages. An overshoot, an excursion into a ditch and catching a slower competitor in stage, would keep them on their toes but would hamper any decent stage times and they entered the midday service laying 4th place within the 1400cc category.
The afternoon stages would prove to be far more challenging than those of the morning. With their first gravel rally finish since September 2014 within touching distance, the pair opted to approach the rougher afternoon stages with an air of caution. Despite sacrificing seconds on their stage times the pair successfully managed to get their car to the last stage, albeit with minor damage after a heavy impact with a loose rock.
The final stage; the only tarmac stage of the rally, took in the breath-taking views along the North Welsh coastline along the Great Orme road in Llandudno and there was both relief and delight as the young crew brought their Nissan Micra safely over the finish line to secure not only a finish, but their best result to date with 2nd position within class and 3rd 1400cc overall.
Their weekend was nicely topped off with further accolade as they were presented with the Best Mixed Crew award and 1st ANWCC Championship crew by the President of North Wales Car Club. Williams also takes the early lead of the female category in the BTRDA Championship.
“We are simply ecstatic. We aimed for a finish and got so much more. Of course, there are a lot of lessons we can take from this and hopefully build on for the remainder of the year. The aim was to complete the event in which we have successfully done, we now look forward to improve the pace for the next event”
The team will be looking to capitalise on their early points haul when they head to Ford World Rally Team HQ situated in the picturesque Lake District in Cumbria for Round 2, the Malcolm Wilson Rally on March 12th.
For more information on the team, please visit www.matthewjacksonrallying.co.uk or follow on Twitter @MJRallying
Image courtesy of Brian Deegan