BTCC News: Smith finishes challenging Thruxton weekend with top ten result

BTCC LogoDublin, Ireland – Tuesday 6th May 2014: Off the back of a consistent weekend at Donington Park that promoted Árón Smith to ninth in the drivers championship, the Irishman was looking forward to a stronger showing at the high-speed Thruxton Circuit for rounds seven, eight and nine of the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.

However Smith’s weekend got off to a difficult start as he struggled with the balance of his Volkswagen Passat CC in Free Practice One. Cruelly Árón would end the session with heavy damage after running wide at the first corner – Allard, making contact with the barriers.

After a superb effort from the Team BMR crew lead by Alan Cole, Smith was able to make it out on track for the final five minutes of the afternoon’s qualifying session to complete three shakedown laps to check the car over and allow him to start from the back of the grid for race one.

Despite Saturday’s misfortunes, Smith was looking determined going into race one and with the car’s known dry weather speed, was optimistic about making his way up the order. A strong start to the race promoted the supported driver to 25th by end of the opening lap. Continuing to work his way up the order, Árón had now managed to get up to 16th position by lap 13 before he ran slightly wide onto the grass coming out of the fast Church corner filling his radiator with grass, forcing him to pit to clear the blockage. Despite this however, Smith took the chequered flag in 22nd position, which would also be his starting position for race two.

Once again, Smith was fast out of the blocks in race two and avoiding any opening lap dramas, found himself in 19th place as he started lap two. Continuing to work his way up the order, Smith was just behind Nick Foster and Rob Austin in 16th coming into Church before contact between the pair just ahead resulted in both of them running off the track. Árón made his way past the incident before the race was then ended with a red flag and Smith was eventually classified 14th in the final result.

With Rob Austin starting under appeal after his race two exclusion, Árón Smith started the final race of the weekend in 15th and was keen to finish his weekend with a strong result. Once again Smith got a good start and by lap six was up to 11th as the safety car was deployed to clear the stricken Proton of Ollie Jackson. With the pack nicely bunched up, this gave Árón another chance to continue up the order when the race got back under way on lap ten. Passing Sam Tordoff, Adam Morgan was next on his shopping list as the Safety car was again deployed, this time to aid the recovery of Simon Belcher. As the race got back under way, Smith drifted his Passat past Morgan at Goodwood to move into ninth. In the closing stages of the race, Smith benefited from a tussle between Matt Neal and Rob Collard to move up to seventh before taking the chequered flag.

Speaking after the race, an upbeat Árón reflected on a challenging weekend: “This weekend certainly didn’t get off to an ideal start. However the team did an amazing job to get the car out in qualifying, as there was quite a lot of damage from free practice. Race one was obviously disappointing as we had got up to a really good position but race two and especially race three were much better. We’ve got a nice break now to chill out and look forward to Oulton Park!”

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