Team BMR’s Árón Smith endured a weekend of highs and lows in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) at Thruxton, claiming his first outright pole position before suffering a puncture in race one.
Smith was on the pace throughout the weekend, setting the eighth fastest lap in first practice before topping second practice on Saturday. That left the Irishman confident going into qualifying, where he took his first-ever outright pole in the series despite a lengthy session which saw two red-flag stoppages.
From the front of the grid in race one, Smith struggled to see the lighting gantry and was passed by the two works’ Hondas before the first corner. He managed to hold on to third, defending from the Mercedes’ of Adam Morgan. However late in the race the Irishman picked up a front-left corner at the high-speed Church corner and dropped out of points contention, being forced to pit for a new front-left tyre.
Luckily for Smith, the revised grid rules for 2015 placed him sixth on the grid for race two, which would also be his 100th race start in the BTCC. Smith suffered contact from Matt Neal in the race, leaving him only able to claim an 11th place finish.
In race three Smith improved from 11th on the grid to take eighth by the chequered flag – scoring him valuable points, despite the 25-year-old slipping to tenth in the drivers’ championship.
“Well this was definitely a weekend of highs and lows!” said Smith reflecting on his weekend. “I’m absolutely over the moon to have got my first pole position from Qualifying this weekend. That’s been something I’ve really wanted to nail. From there unfortunately I guess things didn’t really go to plan.
“Once again we had the speed to be on the podium, just not the luck with the puncture in race one and contact in race two. However Oulton Park should be good as I got the team’s first ever victory there last year, and with some improvements we’ve found during our testing in the off season, I really feel we can be right at the sharp end of the field once again.”