Rob Smith will not be returning to the Renault UK Clio Cup grid this season after confirming he will contest the remainder of the MINI Challenge UK season with backing from Pirelli.
Smith endured a up and down campaign in the Clio Cup with reigning champions Team Pyro, a podium finish on the opening weekend at Brands Hatch the highlight, a car destroying accident during testing at Oulton Park the low-point.
After the damage caused from the accident forced him to miss the Oulton weekend and the following rounds at Croft before the summer break, Smith has made the decision to curtail his Clio season.
Having already agreed a deal with Pirelli to compete in three Mini Challenge events, he’s now focusing solely on that series for the rest of the year.
“The Clio was a write-off at Oulton and, despite having finished on the podium at the first round, missing two full events, coupled with the cost of replacing the car, effectively meant any hopes of a decent finish in the championship were over,” he explains. “Pirelli put a deal together with us for three MINI events anyway, so we’re turning out attention to that for the rest of the season.”
Smith is already a podium finisher in the Mini series, having taken a best finish of third place in the headline JCW Class during a one-off outing with the Exelr8 Motorsport team at Donington Park last September.
He returned to the series with the Excelr8 team at Oulton Park last month, his first race action since his Clio accident at the circuit, taking a best finish of fifth.
Smith will now compete at Silverstone this weekend and in the final rounds of the season at Brands Hatch GP in September, and is using the outings as a chance to assess his options for the 2015 season.
“I loved racing the MINI in the one-off event at Donington last year and I am really looking forward to Silverstone, having reacquainted myself with the MINI at the Oulton round,” he added. “I was right on the pace in the third race of the weekend, so we’re aiming for more of the same.
“Looking ahead to next year, I am keeping my options open for 2015 and Clio Cup is unfinished business for us. The new MINI, though, and the plans for the MINI Challenge look very exciting and so it’s something we have to consider as well.”