Árón Smith has confirmed to TouringCars.net that, as per the regulations, he and Team BKR are set to upgrade to the latest specification RML control components for next season in a bid to close the performance gap to those at the front of the field.
Smith, who is currently in the first season of a two-year contract with Nico Ferrari’s outfit, started the season in strong fashion with podium finishes at Brands Hatch and Donington Park as he began the season with a run of five consecutive top eight finishes. However, as the development gap has widened over the course of the season between the newer RML and the older GPRM control components, Smith has increasingly found it an uphill battle to hit the same heights in older machinery.
A three-time race winner with a raft of experience in top teams such as Motorbase and Team BMR, Smith explained the reasoning behind remaining with the older components for this campaign, as he and his engineering teams sought to iron out the minor issues with the Volskwagen CC’s performance at each circuit before taking on the task of upgrading it’s machinery.
“We’ll certainly be on the new components next year,” revealed Smith to TouringCars.Net.
“We’re just trying to maximise the week points from the last few years with the Passat, and we found a few this weekend but just never got to show it with our performances.” he went on to explain.
It proved to be a frustrating weekend north of the Scottish border for the Irishman, with a battling drive to 18th in the reverse grid contest the only highlight amid two retirements and a lightning-fast engine change by Team BKR earlier in the day.
Speaking after the weekend’s action had concluded, Smith admitted he was frustrated that mechanical problems had blighted his performance but elected to take a mature stance on the issues and look forward to the next meeting at Rockingham in a fortnight [27th-28th August].
“It was a very tough weekend, this circuit isn’t particularly friendly to the Passat, or it hasn’t been in the past, so it was a little bit tricky,” he commented.
“And then we just had bad luck, like a wiring failure in race one and then an oil leak in race two, so that absolutely screwed us. And then in race three we were just staying out of carnage, we didn’t achieve all that much unfortunately. But that is life.”
Smith is hopeful of repeating his qualifying feat of last season at Rockingham, one of his many front-row performances last campaign, but is wary that the RML components could provide the front-runners with a strong advantage.
“I’m looking forward to Rockingham. Last year we qualified on the front row there, so fingers crossed the RML components don’t have the upper hand and then we can race at the front again.”
“We go to Rockingham in a very good place, so we can hopefully just get back up the sharp end and see what we can do.”