Aron Smith took his second win of the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season at Snetterton on in a tense final race in Norfolk on Sunday, a win he dubbed ‘unbelievable’ after bouncing back from a testing shunt in the build-up to the weekend.
The Irishman enjoyed a return to the front of the field for BMR Chrome Edition Restart Racing in the sixth meeting of the season at Snetterton’s 300 circuit, planting himself on pole position for race three after finishes of sixth and eighth place earlier in Sunday’s opening two encounters.
Smith held his pole position as the lights went out for the reverse-grid contest, and rebuffed the close attacks of Airwaves Racing‘s Mat Jackson and Fabrizio Giovanardi for the entirety of the 12-lap encounter to pick up his second win of the season, backing up his success at Oulton Park in the damp final race back in June.
The Volkswagen driver’s third ever BTCC win was his first in the dry, but made more remarkable by the fact that he had recovered from a heavy testing shunt the week prior to the event, the BMR squad turning around a new machine within 15 hours on Wednesday evening having worked into into the early hours.
“Unbelievable!”, Smith told The Checkered Flag of his triumph. “This is my first win in the dry, and a bit of a secret was that last week in a test we had a really big crash at about 120mph. So to bounce back and win a race is mad!”
“I spent the week with physios; the car shell only came back on Wednesday morning and the team went 15 hours straight before we even had a shakedown on Thursday morning. After all that, it was flawless.
“They effectively built a brand new car in 15 hours – and it’s gone on to win. I thought, when I got out of the car after the crash, that it’s the worst crash I’ve ever had. I didn’t feel right and I thought ‘I wouldn’t be ready for this’.”
Smith’s latest victory was under intense race-long pressure, holding the Airwaves Ford Focus ST duo at bay in a clean fight between himself and Jackson where Smith felt he exploited the strengths of the improving Volkswagen CC against his Ford rival.
“You have to race smart”, added the Irishman on his defensive drive. “I knew Mat [Jackson] was quicker through Coram, but you can’t pass through there and you also can’t pass at the last corner. So each time I was slow through there, backing them up, then I was quicker through the infield.
“I sacrificed probably half a second a lap through there, and that might have just got us the win.”
Smith now lies ninth in the overall championship standings after a strong weekend, and felt that Snetterton’s technical layout played to the strengths of the Volkswagen.
“It’s exactly like I said at Brands – some circuits will play to our strengths, and the long sweeping corners here were ideal”, he added.
“I was absolutely delighted with it, but it’s the first year that the Passat has been run to its full capacity. Hopefully we can stick around at the front for the rest of the season now.”