Bradley Smith has told The Checkered Flag that he feels he hasn’t been able to show his true potential during a ‘frustrating’ maiden Ginetta GT4 Supercup campaign.
Smith headed into the season high hopes, having taken three consecutive Radical championships from 2012, which led to a Rolex Daytona 24 drive last year and a planned LMP3 European Le Mans drive with Greaves Motorsport for 2015.
When Graves pulled the plug on that deal though, Smith was left without a drive and following some discussions with Ginetta, a late deal was put together for him to enter the BTCC-supporting Supercup.
It hasn’t proven to be a match made in heaven for Smith and his family-run Mectech Motorsport outfit though, with limited pre-season running and on-going car troubles throughout the season leaving him unable to regularly take on the established teams and drivers in the series.
Qualifying fifth on four occasions this year shows that, with Smith regularly sitting at the front of ‘second pack’ on the grid behind the experienced championship leading quartet of Tom Oliphant, Carl Breeze, Jamie Orton and Will Burns.
Smith has taken seven top six finishes this campaign, breaking into the top four on three occasions. A third and a fourth place at Snetterton came during arguably his most competitive weekend overall, while the team’s hard work was rewarded with a superb maiden win at Croft in June.
“It’s been an up and down season. We’ve struggled a bit time wise with testing, which has put us on the backfoot for the race weekends, and then with the mechanical failures that we’ve had that are through no fault of the team,” Smith explained to TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk at Silverstone.
“It’s extremely frustrating. You don’t want the public and the motorsport community to devalue what you’ve done in the last few years, winning the three Radical titles in a row. We came into this not expecting to win straight away, it’s a different challenge, but over time we’d have hoped to have been consistently in the top five and on the podium.
“It’s frustrating, but it’s not for the want of trying, the whole Mectech team have been flat out all season and whenever there’s been a problem we’ve been straight back on it. I’d say we’ve done the best job possible with the luck that we’ve had this year.”
It was in the final race of the Croft weekend that Smith was finally able to fully showcase his pace and potential in the G55, picking his way through from eighth on the grid to second, before closing down a five second gap to the leader, overtaking him, and pulling clear for a six second victory.
While he was naturally delighted with the result, it ended up providing more frustration for Smith that they couldn’t build on it in the second half of the season.
“We were having troubles with the car under braking and on the downshift all weekend at Croft, and we found out before race three that it was due to the diff,” Smith explained.
“We put a new diff in for race three and it completely transformed the car. Everything suddenly became a lot easier to do, the car was easier to manage and drive, and to win in the manner we did was brilliant.
“It gave us a lot of confidence and we went into the second half of the season thinking we could really challenge for more race wins, but unfortunately some more mechanical failures out of our control set us back again.”
Smith is already confirmed to be finishing ninth in the final standings, the lowest ranked of the Pro drivers to have completed more than half the season, so he heads into this weekend’s season finale at Brands Hatch GP with the focus solely on producing a positive end to the campaign.
“Brands Hatch is our local circuit, and while we’ve not done much running in this car on the GP circuit, hopefully we can go there and end the season on a high,” Smith concluded.
“Every time we go out on track, we go out to get to the top of the timesheets and win races, that’s what we’ve always done. We’re not happy with just finishing in the top ten, but we’ve got to be realistic and we’ve got to solve some of the issues we’ve been having to challenge.
“Ultimately I just really want to reward the team. They’ve been working so hard and there’s been many long nights, so if we can get some strong results at Brands Hatch to end the year that would be good for everyone.”
While Smith is likely to move on from the championship next season, he says the team could stay and run a car for the ‘right driver’ alongside their planned multi-car entry into the Ginetta Junior Championship.