Aron Smith told TCF that he left Brands Hatch “filled with confidence”, after two podium finishes in the opening round of the 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship put him second in the Drivers’ Championship.
The BMR Racing man shone brightly throughout the weekend at the Indy layout of the Kent-based circuit, joining Andy Priaulx on the front row of the grid in qualifying before trailing home Rob Collard in race one the following day.
Contact at Graham Hill Bend from Jack Goff in race two slipped the Volkswagen CC driver to 12th, but a surge to third spot was the final act of the Irishman to leave him just a point behind joint championship leaders, Matt Neal and Triple Eight‘s Goff.
The results gave Smith heart for the remaining nine meetings of 2015, including a personal boost to come away as the best-performing BMR driver ahead of double championship-winning team-mates, Colin Turkington and Jason Plato.
“A very good weekend”, Smith told The Checkered Flag on Sunday evening. “Races one and three were where it really happened for me.
“We had a bit of a blip in race two. Not my fault, but it happens”, he said of his race two incident.
“I think that we’ve proved to the rest of the world, probably even after qualifying, that we are going to be a force to be reckoned with – which I’m really proud of because it’s often overlooked when you have team-mates like I do.”
Asked of his delight at starting the season in such style, the smiling Irishman commented: “Definitely. To come away second in the championship is crazy for me!
“I thought this weekend would be a bit difficult to be honest because everybody is on base weight, so we didn’t know how we were going to get on.”
The final race of the day was a personal star performance from Smith, charging through the pack from 12th on the grid up to a podium position once again, claiming third spot in a race that showed off BMR’s race pace over the full distance on the softer tyres compared to their rival outfits.
“I was apprehensive going on with the soft tyres in race three”, Smith added, “because we weren’t sure how it would feel around here, but it was fantastic. I think it was probably the best car on softs.
“I know Matt [Neal] won on the softs, but I think I would have got him had I not started 12th.”
With a year’s experience in the Volkswagen already under his belt, Smith says that the improvements in form of the car have now rocketed his own confidence to a personal sky high.
Ahead of the second round at Donington Park on 18/19 April, Smith says that he feels at home in the car, saying: “I’m filled with confidence coming away from this weekend; with the team, with the car, the mechanics and engineers – everything is just bang on the money.
“It’s become second nature to me being in this car now. You need to feel like the car is an extension of yourself and that’s exactly how I feel. It’s shaped around me and I can try and extract everything from it.
“I’m happy for the whole team but I’m also just happy that we’ve had the car on the podium in every race. It’s testament to the guys.”