WIX Racing with Eurotech’s Brett Smith was “chuffed to bits” after securing his maiden British Touring Car Championship pole position at Brands Hatch.
Smith, whose first flying lap put him provisionally second behind Dan Cammish, went even faster on his second run to eclipse Cammish and take pole for race one tomorrow [30 September].
He told TouringCars.Net scoring his first ever BTCC pole was a “surreal” feeling that hadn’t quite sunk in immediately after qualifying.
“I feel a little bit tingly! It doesn’t really feel quite real just yet,” said Smith.
“When they were telling me ‘You’re P1 – get loads of pickup’ I was like I thought I was P2?
“You told me P2 – and apparently Dad told me whilst I was out the back and the radio can get a bit sketchy. So I didn’t realise that my second run was quicker.
“The front row I would have been chuffed with but pole – it’s a little bit surreal.”
Despite demonstrating strong qualifying pace throughout his first full BTCC campaign, Smith described scoring his maiden pole as “just ridiculous” as it exceeded his expectations.
“It’s my first full season – and my qualifying pace has always been threatening – my Saturday pace is always really strong, Sunday is a bit of a different issue,” he explained.
“I’ve been there or there abouts, my average qualifying if you take out Croft is like top seven or seven-and-a-half which is fantastic.
“I’m chuffed with that, Saturdays have never been an issue. P1 is just ridiculous.”
After struggling with rear-end grip throughout practice, Smith was even more shocked to show such pace after successfully “dialling out” the oversteer in his Honda Civic Type R.
“We had some slight issues all day with rear grip – the car has been a little bit too lairy,” said Smith.
“If it’s too grippy at the rear it’s just too safe and you’re too slow. But it was a little bit too much – it’s been there or there abouts – the front has felt amazing but the rear has just been a little bit too rotational.
“That’s been the aim in free practice one, free practice two to try to dial that out and we’ve done that and some and just found that extra bit of pace that we needed.
“I think I did a [1:]31.2 in free practice two, and I was thinking in qualifying I might be able to beat Jack’s time but we’ve done it by a quarter of a second.
“I didn’t think there was six tenths to find, but I’m chuffed to bits that I managed to find six tenths.”
The 2017 Mini Challenge champion is hopeful that if he can get a clean start, he will be able to keep both the duo of Team Dynamics Hondas behind him.
“Brands is one of the ones where it’s actually better to be higher up on the road in P2, but obviously I’ve got [Dan] Cammish alongside me, I’ve got Matt [Neal], Jack [Goff] and [Dan] Lloyd around me,” said Smith.
“So thankfully there’s no rear-wheel drive cars around me. That’s good news – I just need to get it off the line.
“I’ve been better with my starts recently but I just want to set my own pace and get on with it. I know they’re not going to do anything stupid.
“Obviously they’re [Team Dynamics] trying to sort themselves out for the Teams championship. But it always seems to be at the last weekend of the year there’s always someone that shines – and I’d love it if that was me.”
“At the minimum I would like to get a podium, getting a podium out the way. I’ve had a fourth at the start of the year, and a third would just be amazing to cap the year.”
Smith will start the opening race tomorrow on the softer compound Dunlop tyre, and feels if he can get a clean start he can manage the tyre to bring home silverware.
“I’ve got the soft – it works and it doesn’t work around here. Last year race two which was dry those that were on the soft absolutely dominated – they went like ten seconds into the lead – they just cleared off,” he said.
“That wasn’t the case the year before that. So it’s a bit topsy-turvy as to whether it works or not.
“Thankfully our car is quite kind to tyres, so don’t try to take too much out of them at the start. That’s the trick to the soft tyres.
“But it should be fine after three or four laps and just try to let the guys behind battle.”
The opening British Touring Car Championship race is scheduled to get underway at 11:35 tomorrow.