Despite the results sheets showing a different outlook, Árón Smith left the opening round of the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship full of confidence in his new car and full of praise for his new Team BMR.
Saturday’s free practice sessions showed early signs that Warren Scott’s new team under the Engineering guidance of Geoff Kingston had managed to work their magic over the winter on their Volkswagen Passat CC’s running comfortably inside the top ten in both sessions.
Qualifying seventh on the grid, a mere 0.17 seconds off pole position for Sunday’s opening race and just ahead of former double champion teammate Alain Menu, Smith safe in the knowledge his car had good race pace was confident of putting in a good run during Sunday’s opening race.
A good start in race one allowed Árón to challenge for position from the outset. With a car that looked fast, Smith was quickly challenging for sixth position against Mat Jackson for several corners before contact between the pair resulted in Árón loosing a place to Rob Austin exiting the corner. While trying to find a way back past Austin, the flying BMW of Colin Turkington eventually caught Smith in the closing stages of the race gaining the place on lap 21. As the chequered flag fell, Árón brought his MicksGarage.com supported Passat across the line in seventh position.
Again starting race two from seventh, Smith got a good start but had to perform plenty of avoiding action exiting the first corner with Matt Neal’s Civic and Rob Collard’s BMW sliding wildly down Paddock Hill. The Safety Car had to be deployed at the end of the opening lap to recover the stricken Chevrolet of Chris Stockton. When the race got back under way on lap four, Árón quickly dispatched former champion Fabrizio Giovanardi to move into ninth. Showing the straight-line pace of the car, Smith got a superb run on BTCC Rookie Tom Ingram to move into eighth coming into Paddock Hill bend and followed this up with a similar move on Adam Morgan on the run up to Druids to move into seventh where he would remain to the flag.
Starting down in 18th for the final race of the weekend as a result of an adjusted race two result combined with a five place grid penalty carrying over from race one, Árón was hoping for some lady luck and the strong pace of the car to get him to the head of the field as early as possible. However Smith’s poor run of luck in the races would strike again as an issue with the splitter could not be repaired despite a fantastic effort by the Team BMR crew forcing him to retire his Chrome Edition Volkswagen Passat CC to the pitlane.
Speaking on Sunday evening, a surprisingly enthusiastic Smith reflected on his ‘first day back at school’: “For sure from a results point of view, this weekend hasn’t really been what we had hoped for. But the first weekend of this championship with 30 cars, seven champions and plenty of people out with a point to prove was always going to be tough. But the positives from this weekend are that we’ve got such a fast car, which gave no trouble this weekend. This team is fantastic despite being so new which leaves me fully confidant that we will be right on it in Donington!”
Árón Smith and Chrome Edition Restart Racing move to Donington Park in Leicestershire for rounds four, five and six of the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship. Stay up to date with Árón Smith Racing on: