Aron Taylor-Smith put in one of his most complete performances to-date in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship to score a decent haul of points amidst adversity at Croft this weekend [29-30 July].
The 33-year-old made the journey over to the 2-mile Yorkshire venue buoyed by a strong showing at the in-season Goodyear Tyre Test last month, in which Taylor-Smith set the second-fastest time behind reigning champion, Tom Ingram.
That, plus the CarStore Power Maxed Racing ace’s steady haul of points across the opening five rounds of the 2023 season, fuelled optimism as the UK’s biggest tin-top series returned to action in front of a capacity crowd, and millions more live on ITV4.
Taylor-Smith’s qualifying performances of late have been a real talking point in the paddock, and the one-lap pace of the Vauxhall Astra was on display once again at Croft, with Aron securing a credible eighth-place starting spot for Sunday’s three races.
A typically boisterous opening lap, even by BTCC’s standards, left Taylor-Smith with it all to do after being muscled wide at Clervaux. That left Taylor-Smith back in P14, on the verge of missing out on points, but the Dubliner rallied well to recover the situation.
Gradually picking his way back through the midfield order, Taylor-Smith eventually took the chequered flag in tenth spot.
Defensive driving was the order of the day in the second contest. As at Snetterton, Taylor-Smith was forced to pilot the world’s widest Astra to preserve an eventual 12th-placed finish, a result that once again put him in the frame for the coveted reverse grid draw.
Lady Luck deserted Taylor-Smith once again, as far as the draw went, and he was dealt another blow with officials imposing a grid penalty, which put Aron back to P18 on the grid for the weekend’s curtain-call.
In arguably his finest drive of the season to-date, Taylor-Smith went on a charge through the order, eventually scoring a weekend-best finish of ninth – a gain of nine places!
Taylor-Smith’s efforts over the Croft weekend have promoted him to P13 overall in the championship standings, with his tally of 69 points just two markers shy of eclipsing his totals from 2021 and ’22 combined, a true testament to the work put in by driver and team to move up the grid.
The BTCC’s annual trip to Scotland is up next, with Knockhill, Fife hosting the next three rounds of the series on 12-13 August.
Aron Taylor-Smith (#40) said:
“This has probably been, historically, a tough circuit for the Vauxhall Astra over the last few years, I don’t think it’s been inside the top ten for a couple of years here.
“The work that the whole team have been doing, both at the tyre test and here at Croft this weekend, has gotten us back into that ballpark, and having the ability to fight.
“The penalty in race two was unfortunate. Everybody’s entitled to their opinion, but I felt it was a bit on the harsh side. But that’s life!
“We started 18th, and on the hard tyre, so to come back through to ninth was a real positive, everybody did a great job. Of the five circuits left in this second half of the season, Croft was probably the hardest, and we’ve gotten that out of the way now.
“I’m really excited for Knockhill, and I feel like we can do a really good job there, too.”