Sam Smelt will become the latest debutant in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship this year as he joins Ollie Jackson at AmDTuning.com with Cobra Exhausts.
21 year old Smelt makes the big jump to the BTCC in only his second season in car racing, having competed in the Volkswagen Racing Cup and F4 British Championship last year.
Smelt contested six races in the VW Cup, taking a best finish of eleventh, before a move to the TOCA package with four top ten finishes in single-seaters.
“I really enjoyed the chance to sample the Audi when I tested back in November and came away from the day having ticked all the boxes I felt I needed to tick,” said Smelt
“Given how well it went with the team, I saw a good chance to make the move up the BTCC and am delighted that we’ve been able to agree a deal.
“I’m really excited about the fact that I’m going to be competing in the series this season, but I’m also aware that the step up is a big one in my second year of car racing.”
“I think this will be a learning year for me, particularly in the first half of the season, and I’ll have to take it race-by-race and see how I get on. I’m expecting it to be tough at the start.”
Jackson meanwhile returns for a third successive season with AmD following a strong 2017 campaign, having finished inside the top ten in the Independents points standings.
The Tamworth racer has 146 BTCC starts to his name since 2011, and led a race for the first time last season after taking the reverse grid pole at Croft.
“I’m delighted to be returning with the team for a third season with the Audi and am really excited about what 2018 holds,” he commented.
“We made a lot of progress last year but I don’t feel the job is finished yet, and I’d like to think that we can continue to build on everything we learned in 2017.
“Having regularly challenged for points last year, the aim for me is to push for top ten finishes from the outset and I certainly feel that a podium could be possible if things fall our way.”
The team are planning to commence pre-season testing in February, and will announce further details of their 2018 racing programme in the coming weeks.
Team principal Shaun Hollamby added: “We’re pleased to confirm Ollie and Sam as our drivers for 2018, and are confident that both can enjoy a successful year on track.
“In Ollie’s case, he has taken huge strides forwards since he rejoined us back in 2016, particularly last year which was arguably his strongest season in the BTCC.
“Sam faces a steep learning curve as a rookie driver, but he did a solid job when he tested the car in tricky conditions back in November.
“He is a youngster with a lot of potential, and there is no reason why he can’t look to challenge for points as the season goes on. We go into 2018 in better shape than ever before.”