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Árón Taylor-Smith: ‘Our strengths are going to just keep growing’

Power Maxed Racing’s Árón Taylor-Smith was optimistic after his Brands Hatch weekend in the British Touring Car Championship, even though he missed out on a podium finish in the final race of the day.

Having missed out on progressing beyond the first part of qualifying on Saturday, Irishman Taylor-Smith chipped away at the opposition in the opening race, gaining four places to take the chequered flag in tenth.

Although he held station on the medium tyre in race two, his team-mate Mikey Doble progressed through the order to ninth on the softer rubber.

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That gave both drivers a favourable grid position for the final race of the day, where Taylor-Smith lined up in second after the top 11 were reversed.

Getting the jump on EXCELR8’s Ronan Pearson at the start, Taylor-Smith was re-passed by the Hyundai driver further around the lap.

He later lost out on a podium finish when Tom Chilton muscled by at Paddock Hill Bend, which also allowed the Ford of Ash Sutton to slip by, with Taylor-Smith nonetheless securing a season-best result of fourth.

Despite missing the podium, the 34-year-old was in good spirits after the race, especially praising the passing moves he had been on the receiving end of.

“We’re chipping away,” said Taylor-Smith to TouringCars.Net. “In free practice, we had a really good indication that we had that package underneath us.

“I probably didn’t drive the best I’ve ever driven in qualifying, truth be told, and that we were on the wrong side of a tenth of a second, which dropped us out of being able to progress.

“Then all eyes were focussing on race three and going out and fighting as hard as we can.

“I was really happy with moving forward in races one and two. We knew that conserving the soft for the last race would give us a chance.

“Ronan drove an outrageously good race – he deserved that win. It was a great move – he came from far back and made the move.

“Tom’s move was a good move. It was late as well, but at the same time he deserved it. He’s a good driver.

“It’s touring cars – that’s what everyone queues up to watch. It’s a little bit sore when you’re on the receiving end of it, but would I have gone for the move? Absolutely.

“The first I saw of it was when he was in my door. But that’s fine! I was the first person to go over to him and say well done. He drives hard, and I want to be fighting people hard – I don’t want people to tiptoe around us, it’s what touring cars are, and you need to just go with it.

“Absolute credit to what EXCELR8 have done because those two cars were on the money today, particularly in race three. We just didn’t really have an answer.”

“Ash is also driving out of his skin this year. Six out of six podiums for someone in this championship is incredible. He is driving so well, and he probably benefitted from Tom’s move on us to get a run, but that is touring cars.

“With maybe another lap or two I think we could have had the legs to go back by, but at the same time even just to be fighting with him, this time 12 months ago, wasn’t on the cards for us, so I think that’s a credit to what Power Maxed have given beneath me.”

Taylor-Smith praised the progress that his team has made since he joined at the start of 2023, giving particular praise to his engineer and Team Manager Martin Broadhurst.

“I think the championship has done a great job with the regulations this year. Some cars are probably a little bit more developed in terms of their engine programmes, but at the same time what M-Sport have given us is really competitive.

“We can work as a team, M-Sport can work with us, and what I like is that it’s a really harmonic relationship – they want to win as much as I want to win, as much as the team want to win, and I know that we’ll just keep making progress.

“I think that’s where some of the teams that have had championship success over the past few years have been able to fine-tune that package beneath them. We’ll get there, I’ve no doubt.

“Rolling out where we left off last year is significantly better. This was a very weak track for us last year. This has historically been, for whatever reason, a tough track on the Astra.

“Seeing the improvement here bodes very well for when we go later in the year to the likes of Thruxton, Knockhill and all the tracks that this car has always been dynamite.

“So, if we’ve improved our weaknesses then our strengths are going to just keep growing.

“It’s a credit to the engineers – Martin is the best engineer I’ve ever had. He keeps me on the straight and narrow, and definitely knows how to get the most out of what we have.

“I’ve no doubt that our race three strategy is going to become a race one strategy in the very near future.”

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