MG’s Árón Taylor-Smith is targeting qualifying inside the top ten in the British Touring Car Championship at Snetterton, with the Irishman feeling ‘fine’ behind the wheel of his new car.
Taylor-Smith suffered from a fracture to his left leg in the qualifying shunt at Croft last-time out, with the 27-year-old using the six-week break to recover from his injuries.
Unsurprisingly Taylor-Smith did not participate in the mid-season tyre test at Snetterton, meaning that first practice was his first time out in the MG6 since early June.
“It’s been a long road, but it feels a lot better now,” said Taylor-Smith to TouringCars.Net. “Every day that goes by my leg gets a little stronger.
“I just have to be a bit careful with my leg this weekend; the worst part is probably just walking around the paddock. Once I’m in the car it’s genuinely fine.
“The doctor said not to do any training at all in the past six weeks, apart from a tiny bit of physio stuff. Even my legs are just so tired from doing anything.”
Taylor-Smith was 22nd fastest in first practice, some 1.7 seconds off the pace, adding that he puts his time down to being a bit rusty as he targets a top ten qualifying performance.
“To be honest, I drove a bit crap – that’s the truth of it. The last five minutes was the only time that I actually started doing anything, and I made a load of mistakes.
“From looking at the data, the car is capable of being inside the top ten. I’ve just got to drive a bit better now – there’s more time in me than there is in the car at the moment.”
Taylor-Smith also praised the efforts of his Triple Eight team to effectively build him a new car, using the shell which was previously damaged by Dan Lloyd in race two at Thruxton.
“That shell is absolutely scrapped; I’ve never seen anything like it,” added the Irishman. “To be honest it shows how well designed the regulations have to be for the shells, because had I seen that [without knowing] I would have thought nobody would be able to get out of it.
“The shell I’m in now is the shell that Dan Lloyd used. It picked up a bit of damage at Thruxton, so after that damage it got parked because it would have needed a few weeks’ [of repair work] and there was only a two-week turnaround [to Oulton Park].
“The shell went to [accident repair specialist] Willie Poole, and he had it for about two to two and a half weeks and put it all straight and did an insane amount of work on it.
“It’s had a few safety upgrades, including on the roll cage from what we learned about the crash, so it’s a bit stronger and a bit more sturdy.
“There’s very little crossover in components; I would honestly say that the only thing that’s come from that car to this car is the insides of the fuel tank. Everything else is new.”
Having only picked up 18 points in the first half of the season, leaving him 22nd overall in the drivers’ championship standings, Taylor-Smith is relishing a ‘fresh start’ at Snetterton for the second half of the year.
“It’s a nice fresh start. I almost feel like the accident was the perfect way to eclipse the struggles of the first half of the season.
“If I can get it in the top ten in qualifying I’ll be happy. From there, I want to stay in the top six or eight in race two and catch a reverse grid.
“Even though I can’t remember Croft, I know we qualified sixth in the laps that we did, which was the season’s best qualifying for myself, so it’s a shame we didn’t get to race.
“The MG has always done quite well here and this track lends itself to a long wheelbase. I just need to find a bit more time in myself really and then we can push the car on.”