Team BMR’s Árón Smith has labelled his opening weekend of the British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch as “the weekend I’ve always wanted” in the BTCC, after claiming two podium finishes.
Smith leaves the Kent circuit in third overall in the drivers’ championship, just one point adrift of joint leaders Matt Neal and Jack Goff. The Irishman was the top BMR driver in two of the day’s three races to send a clear message to his title-winning team-mates.
Race one saw Smith start from second on the grid, which became third after he was beaten off the line by the fast-starting Rob Collard. When leader Andy Priaulx began to struggle on the soft tyres, Smith was able to pounce to take second, as Collard took the lead.
Smith was unable to mount a serious challenge for the lead thereafter, but held on to claim second in the season’s opening encounter.
Starting sixth in race two as a result of posting the sixth-fastest lap in race one, Smith was collected by a rival half-way through the race and ultimately finished in 12th, handing him a less than favourable starting spot for race three.
In the final race, however, the Irishman was able to make his way up to third, enjoying a strong run of form that saw him take a podium towards the very end.
“It’s the weekend that I’ve always wanted in the BTCC, apart from race two but those races happen,” said a delighted Smith. “Qualifying was the one where you really wanted to prove yourself, so to have shown to the outside world that I can do it is something I’m really proud of.
“I’m most happy with my drive in race three. The morale in the camp was slightly down after race two, so to come back and get a podium picked everybody up.
“To get two podiums and sit one point off the championship lead is a great start to the season and we’re in really good shape with the car and the team for the year ahead.”