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Smith ends ‘most enjoyable year of racing’ with a podium in race one

Brands Hatch, Kent, UK – Monday 12th October 2015: Team BMR RCIB Insurance came to Brands Hatch set to make a significant mark in the British Touring Car Championship history books. In contention for almost every championship trophy, Árón Smith was ready and willing to play his part to ensure Warren and Vicki Scott were rewarded for their huge efforts over the past two seasons.
Free practice was mixed for Irishman Smith, however after the sessions, Árón was feeling confident that following a number of experimental setup changes in the morning, he could assemble a package that would work for him Qualifying.
Sure enough, as the session got underway, it was Smith lighting up the timing screens, instantly leading a Team BMR trio at the top of the times. As the session progressed, Smith’s early best was pipped by the rapid Motorbase Focus. In the closing moments of the session, Smith jumped himself back up the order from 11th to fourth, however his lap was deemed to breach the track limit rules and removed. The impressive P1 Nutrition ambassador followed that lap up with an even better time of 1:30.811, good enough for second and a mere one tenth off the pole setting Focus, securing his fifth front row start of the season.
Starting Sunday’s opening race of the day from the outside of the Brands Hatch grid, Smith was eager to end his season with at least one podium, but remained on standby to play the team game if the opportunity arose. Despite a good start, Smith initially fell back to third coming out of Paddock Hill bend but a good run up to Druids put the Volkswagen CC driver back into second. After a brief Safety Car at the end of opening lap, racing recommenced on lap three. Smith remained second despite encountering an ailing Dave Newsham into Druids. Having just set the second fastest time of the race to count towards his race two starting position, the Safety Car was back out on lap six to allow the recovery of Stewart Lines. Back to green again on lap ten, Smith was now second with Adam Morgan’s Mercedes in tow. Doing what he could to back the Mercedes into teammates Jason Plato and Colin Turkington, Morgan appeared to have it covered leaving Árón to secure his sixth podium finish of the season in second.
Starting again from second, Smith’s charge was going to be all the more difficult on this occasion, now carrying 66kg of success ballast from race one along with the Dunlop SportMAXX soft tyres. Slipping to fourth on the opening lap, the Safety Car was out once more on lap two to neutralise the race. Keen to do what he could to aid the various championship battles, Jason Plato was now in his mirrors and Smith duely obliged his title-hunting teammate during the middle of the race. Now finding himself locked in battle with Honda’s Matt Neal, Smith battled the BTCC veteran over the final few laps before Neal squeezed his Honda past coming into Paddock to drop Smith to eighth at the flag.
With the championship battle going to the last race of the 2015 season, Smith unfortunately fell just one position short of the race three grid draw, as seven was drawn. With Plato up towards the front, Smith set about securing as many points as possible for the various teams titles along with trying to put himself in contention for the final podium of the year.
The final BTCC thriller of the season would get off to a disruptive start however, with no less than three safety car periods inside the opening seven laps. When some healthy racing laps finally commenced, Smith was eighth and watchful of Honda driver Gordon Sheddon, who was now race leader Plato’s main title rival. Smith performed a master class in defensive driving over the next two laps, but the Honda however had the edge it needed to force a gap and charge past on lap 12 to drop Smith to ninth which he would secure to the flag.
Smith’s trio of top 10 finishes played a significant part in helping Team BMR RCIB Insurance to secure an impressive selection of titles including:
  • Overall Team Champions
  • Independent Team Champions 
Árón Smith - #40 Team BMR RCIB Insurance:
“I’m delighted for Team BMR, they deserved to win this Teams Championship and I think they’ve done an unbelievable job. It’s all swings and roundabouts in this championship and hats off to Gordon [Sheddon] he did a great job and also to Colin [Turkington] for winning the Independents Championship. I’m delighted to have knocked in one final podium this year in race one, the car was unbelievably good today but the team needed some help and I was more than obliging to play the team game and do the best job for Team BMR.”
- ends -

Downloadable Images (Click for High-Res)

A solid drive in race one allowed Smith to convert his front row start to a second place finish.
Photo: Jakob Ebrey
Adam Morgan kept Smith honest dring race one.
Photo: Jakob Ebrey
Árón Smith is currently one of Ireland's leading motor racing drivers. The 2011 Dunlop Motorsport Ireland Young Racing Driver of the Year graduated from an extensive karting career to the Renault Clio Cup in the UK in 2007. Having moved to the Italian Clio Cup for one season, Árón returned to the Clio Cup UK and narrowly missed out on taking the title in a season that included his BTCC debut in Knockhill in 2011.

2015 will mark Smith's fourth participation in Europe's most competitive saloon car championship, the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship. With eleven podiums, three on the top step so far in his BTCC career, Árón has become one of the established British Touring Car Drivers. Returning in 2015 again with Team BMR in the highly competitive Volkswagen Passat CC, makes him a real favourite to be a title contender this season.
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