Aron Taylor-Smith was left frustrated after a season-best qualifying performance in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park last weekend [17-18 June] came unstuck on race day.
The Irishman was one to watch throughout Saturday as he proved once again that he is one of the fastest on this year’s grid, highlighted by a superb run in free practice where he sat at the top of the times until the dying few minutes but still ended up an incredible third position ahead of qualifying. This from continued into qualifying as he put in a tremendous lap on his final run in Q1 to make the coveted top-ten shootout, before setting the eighth quickest time around the 2.2-mile Cheshire circuit to secure a fourth-row starting slot.
Sunday dawned with plenty of promise, but the 33-year-old would be left rueing his misfortune just hours later after being innocently collected in another driver’s accident during the opening race.
Enjoyed a spirited battle for eighth, Taylor-Smith was collected on the apex at Druids by an out-of-control Daniel Rowbottom, with the NAPA Ford sending the Vauxhall Astra into the barriers at high-speed.
A tremendous repair job by the CarStore Power Maxed Racing team meant the unharmed Taylor-Smith would return to the fray in time for race two, and in boisterous fashion he set about making amends, rising six spots to P19.
Rain had been forecast to hit the circuit in time for the final contest, but never arrived. Anchored in the midfield, and on the unfavoured Hard Goodyear tyre, it was always going to be an uphill task for Taylor-Smith to salvage points from the weekend.
He came oh-so-close, running P16 before contact whilst battling Dexter Patterson’s CUPRA for the final points-paying position forced the Dubliner to retire to the pits.
Nonetheless, the weekend stands as another timely reminder that Taylor-Smith is a force to be reckoned with in the UK’s premier tin-top series once more, as the series embarks on a six-week summer break.
Croft hosts the next three rounds of the 2023 season on 29-30 July.
Aron Taylor-Smith (#40) said:
“We arrived at Oulton with a lot of potential, and I think we definitely made the most of that, as far as qualifying goes. I was really happy to make the top-ten shootout, and I think, in an ideal scenario, the weekend would have come to us from there.
“Unfortunately, I got taken out in race one by Daniel having an accident at Druids. Whatever the reason for it, we’ve had a chat and I’ve accepted the apology, and I do appreciate him coming to speak to me about it.
“But that was effectively ‘it’ for us, then. I’m so proud of the team for getting the car turned around for race two, and hopefully a bit of an overtaking show was a fitting reward!
“We’d hoped the forecasted rain would hit for race three and give us a bit of a boost, but it wasn’t to be, and then more contact forced us to park up.
“It’s definitely one that falls under ‘frustrating’, but I’m big enough and bold enough to lick my wounds, process the weekend and start analysing where we go from here to keep progressing at Croft after the break.”