Rob Smith made his Thruxton debut in challenging conditions - Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Rob Smith made his Thruxton debut in challenging conditions - Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Teenage Clio Cup racer Rob Smith was blighted by tyre issues as his first visit to Thruxton ended in disappointment.

If facing the fastest track on the calendar for the first time was not daunting enough, Smith was also experiencing his first ever wet-weather running in his Total Control Racing Renault Clio.

After qualifying for both races in 19th the 19-year-old finished in 16th position in Round Five of the AirAsia Renault UK Clio Cup Championship, but crashed out of the very wet Round Six after just three racing laps, and the rookie put his troubles down to a variety of tyre issues.

“It really couldn't have been any worse where the weather was concerned,” he said. “It all started with the rain in qualifying, by the time I'd learnt to drive the conditions the tyres had gone so it was a struggle to try and get any kind of decent time at all – we were done before we started really.”

Despite showing strong pace in race one, the Goodride Performance Tyres, Grouptyre and Exhaust Tyres & Batteries Ltd-backed driver was hampered following a mistake in the early stages.

He said: “The first race wasn't too bad, I lost the car on cold tyres early on otherwise I think we could have been knocking on the door of the top 10 as our pace was quite good.”

Round Six began under the safety car, such were the severity of the conditions, and after three laps the cars were let loose. Smith struggled on worn tyres – championship regulations limit the number of wet tyres competitors can use – and on the third racing lap he lost the back end at Allard, where his teammate Nicolas Hamilton had spun at the start, and heavy contact with the barrier ended his race immediately.

Smith reflected: “For race two, we were screwed by the tyre regulations which limit how many sets of wets you've got. The tyres we had on the back were basically like intermediates and on standing water that meant we didn't have a chance.”

The TCR driver, 20th in the driver standings on 27 points, plans to test at some point in the six week gap between now and Oulton Park.