Aron Smith has handed down an early gauntlet for the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship after getting behind the wheel of Redstone Racing’s NGTC Ford Focus for the first time.

Smith ran the car at Brands Hatch yesterday (Tuesday, November 6) for a handful of laps and says it is not even at three-quarters of its potential – despite Mat Jackson taking a win, and being denied two more through mechanical issues, just races after its rushed debut.

The Motorbase-run squad hurried the new car out for the first race after the summer break at Snetterton and while Smith continued in the S2000 Focus, taking his first win in the season finale at Brands, Jackson and the team set about getting their heads around the new car – and the Irishman believes their efforts will pay dividends next season.

“As soon as I got into the NGTC I could immediately feel the difference from the S2000,” he said. “It’s got so much more grip, and as good as the car is in its current set up, you can tell that it’s still only running at about 70% of what it’s capable of.

“Even in just the 10 or 12 laps I got in around Brands I loved being in the NGTC. You can just sense that the car has potential to be unbelievably good – in the areas where the guys have cracked the setup, it’s mind-blowingly strong.”

The youngster, who has expressed his desire to stay at the team he now considers his “family”, was denied an opportunity to sample the NGTC Focus earlier in the season, when a post-Snetterton test session at the Kent circuit was rained off.

However, with a full test day tomorrow (Thursday, November 8), Smith is eager to get started on a full testing programme, as he fully intends to be on the grid with the Kent-based team next season.

He added: “I have no doubt that with some more testing and development over the winter, the Motorbase NGTC has the potential to beat the Hondas and MGs and win the Championship in 2013, and I’m working very hard to secure a deal to be in it!”