22-year-old Aron Smith is to join Motorbase Performance for a full season in the British Touring Car Championship with the Kent based team fielding three cars for the entire campaign. Mat Jackson and Liam Griffin both remain with the team for 2012.
“Aron has settled straight in to the team and has impressed us all in testing,” said team principal, David Bartrum. “I’m sure he will be competitive very quickly this year. Liam has had a year in the BTCC under his belt now so knows what to expect this year so we’re looking forward to him hitting the ground running come round one. And with Mat, he will be starting in a car he knows well which has been further improved so there is no reason why we can’t mount a serious championship challenge as we did last year, but hope for some better luck in 2012!”
Smith, the current Motorsport Ireland Dunlop Young Racing Driver of the Year made a one-off appearance in a Triple Eight run Vauxhall Vectra at Knockhill last year following success in single make tin-tops and will now embark on his first full season in Britain's most prestigious racing series.
“I couldn’t be more excited about this season; the past two years have literally been building up to this moment,” said Smith. “Motorbase Performance is the type of team I know I’ll feel right at home in, this all feels like a dream come true and I can't wait for the racing to begin!”
Bartrum's team, will continue to sue the S2000-spec Ford Focus ST chassis mated to a NGTC engine from Mountune. The squad showed pace throughout the 2011 season, lead driver Mat Jackson scoring four wins and going into the final weekend in contention for both the overall and independents' championship.
Jackson will continue with Motorbase for the third season, with his sights firmly on the overall title again as he hopes to take advantage of problems for his 2011 title rivals – all of whom will be in brand new cars for the new season, which starts at Brands Hatch on April 1.
“2012 looks to be an exciting year in the BTCC,” he explained. “With the New NGTC regulations being adopted by many of the front running teams, the season could prove to be very interesting indeed. We showed last year that we have the car and skills in place to compete against the 'big boys' and hopefully the other teams will experience some teething problems that we can capitalise on!”
Liam Griffin will enter his sophomore BTCC season with team, aiming to pick up where he ended his debut season with improving results after a stuttering start.