Aron Smith says that he is confident he can again get the better of his illustrious BMR Racing team-mates, after out-qualifying Jason Plato and Colin Turkington for the opening Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race of the season at Brands Hatch.
The BMR squad left it late to show their best cards in the 30-minute session on Saturday, Smith putting in the best lap of all for the trio as he pipped his two championship-winning team-mates to the front row slot alongside triple World Touring Car Champion, Andy Priaulx.
Smith, a two-time winner in the Volkswagen CC last season, was delighted with his qualifying performance, his reaction summing up how much a front row slot meant to him.
“I couldn’t believe it!” Smith told The Checkered Flag after qualifying 0.069s off pole. “There’s obviously a lot of hype around us and rightly so, but it’s nice to come in under the radar and do a good job.”
The Irishman’s focus is on converting the front row start into a race win on Sunday, saying that he is confident he can do so based on the pace of the Volkswagen at the Kent circuit so far.
He added: “I’m confident in my own ability, but [Plato and Turkington] are world class drivers and it’s not an easy task. It will be hard but I’m in a really good position.
“I know the car and I’m comfortable with the set-up, so I can just do my thing. The guys have worked so bloody hard on it and the results are already showing.”
Reigning champion Turkington meanwhile finished fourth overall and will start alongside team-mate Plato, Turkington saying the the VW trio are ideally placed to threaten on Sunday: “It’s a great result for me. First time with the Volkswagen, and I think we’re ideally placed.
“There were so many question marks in my head going into qualifying, and again for the first race tomorrow, but I think I’m in an ideal position and if I can tuck in behind the front row guys at the start, that will be perfect.”
Turkington still said that he is adapting to the BMR machine having switched from the rear-wheel drive BMW he drove last year, but says that the team can only get quicker from this stage.
“Being on the second row always gives you a good chance for the race. I gave it 100 per cent, but the car is just a little bit tricky to drive for me at the moment; we’re still trying to tame it a bit more to my liking. It’s a work in progress, and we can only get faster from here.”