Fresh off the back of a double podium start to his 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship campaign, Irishman Árón Smith was confident coming to the Leicestershire circuit, known to be a favourite for the Team BMR Volkswagens.
An on-form Smith approached Saturday afternoon’s qualifying confident that he could find that extra pace required to eclipse team mate Plato at the front of the field. However despite successfully executing his plan early on, a clutch issue just inside the final ten minutes sidelined the Irishman and as a result his time left him starting from eleventh position for Sunday’s opening race of the weekend.
However, Árón’s weekend was set to suffer another unexpected blow as he pulled out of the garage for race one on Sunday morning. A brake issue meant he would be unable to take his place on the grid or start the race, demoting him to the back of the grid for race two.
After another determined effort from the Team BMR mechanics, Smith’s brake issues were cured allowing him to make his way to the grid for race two. Starting from 29thposition, he took no time in starting his mission up through the field right from the start of the race. By the end of lap two with the safety car now on track, Árón had already made up 12 positions, placing himself 17th behind Rob Austin’s Audi.
Racing got back underway on lap five where Smith continued his charge. Clearly getting the very best from Dunlop’s Sport Maxx Soft Compound Tyre, the majority of his progress was being executed with a brilliant exit from the first corner and maximizing the Volkswagen’s superb straight-line speed down into the Craner Curves. After 18 action packed laps, the MicksGarage.com supported driver crossed the line in twelfth position.
Starting from twelfth in race three, Smith was confident that despite having to run the medium compound tyre, he could once again show his immense pace and move further up the order. By lap seven, he had soared his way up to third place, passing championship leader Matt Neal going down the Craner Curves just before the Safety Car was deployed.
On lap eleven the race was back under green flag conditions and Smith wasted no time in getting his race lead challenge back underway. Hot on the heels of race leader Josh Cook who made it difficult for Smith to pull off what had now become his signature move out of turn one and down to the Craner Curves. However, on lap fourteen, Árón did manage to find a Volkswagen sized opening, however just as he completed the move in the middle of Craner Curves, contact between the pair sent them both flying across the grass. Rejoining in sixth, the Irishman was forced to nurse his car home to the end after a slow puncture from the incident hampering his cars handling over the final laps.
Árón Smith – #40 Team BMR Volkswagen Passat CC:
“At Brands we had trophies and podiums, but that race three is probably something I’m more proud of because I fought and fought and it didn’t go our way, we were probably an inch away from winning that one, but that’s Touring Cars. Going to Thruxton with no ballast is good news for me. Ballast will murder the tyres around there as that’s what we’ve seen this weekend so hopefully we can pick up some solid points and maybe achieve our first win this year!”
The 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship continues with Rounds Seven, Eight and Nine at Thruxton in just over three weeks’ time on May 9/10.
2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship Drivers’ Standings:
1. Matt Neal – 75 points
2. Colin Turkington – 73 points
3. Gordon Shedden – 67 points
4. Andrew Jordan – 63 points
5. Jason Plato – 58 points
6. Jack Goff – 54 points
7. Rob Collard – 53 points
8. Adam Morgan – 53 points
9. Árón Smith – 50 points
10. Andy Priaulx – 44 points
2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship Independents Trophy Standings:
1. Colin Turkington – 89
2. Adam Morgan – 79
3. Árón Smith – 77
4. Jason Plato – 69
5. Tom Ingram – 68
6. Rob Austin – 54
7. Josh Cook – 54
8. Aiden Moffat – 51
9. Dave Newsham – 50
10. Hunter Abbott – 42