The pinnacle of British Motorsport ventured to Europe’s fastest circuit, Thruxton, for round three of the 2022 British Touring Car Championship. Thruxton always offers up a host of surprises for the teams and drivers alike as the circuit differs in a major way from all other tracks, most notably with the use of the hard compound tyre. The circuit’s averaged speed is in excess of 100 MPH with the cars reaching close to 150 MPH down the back straight which puts an enormous strain on the chassis, which is unlike any other circuit. This combined with the abrasive track surface always put a whole new set of demands of the car.
Taylor-Smith has always shown bright at Thruxton; in fact the Irishman notched up his maiden BTCC Pole Position at the circuit in 2015 and has always been very competitive around the nations fastest circuit. Engine related issues limited the pre season test day at the circuit and as such, the revised set up to cope with the additional weight and power of the hybrid system had not been elevated prior to the start of Free Practise One. However, Saturday proved to be extremely productive with the team working in unison and developing the new set up for the car. While the end results may not have shown the progress that had been made, the time sheets certainly did as Taylor-Smith pushed the Cupra to it’s absolute maximum.
Taylor-Smith Commented: “Thruxton is a place like no other in terms of both the nature of the track and the fact that we have to use a different tyre to anywhere else on the calendar. The tyre itself is a harder compound and puts a whole new set of demands on the car. This combined with the additional weight of the Hybrid Kit meant that we effectively started today with no relevant pre season data. That being said, the team have done a phenomenal job and have transformed the car. We managed to find two seconds from Free Practise One to Qualifying, which is unheard of, and a testament to the hard work within the team.”
All four Cupra’s were out of position after a difficult qualifying session, which left Taylor-Smith in 20th, but there was cause for optimism going into race day after witnessing the progress that was made throughout Saturday. While 16 laps does not seem like a long race, it certainly is around Thruxton as the circuit always offers up the risk of punctures for teams and the car set-ups are revised to heavily prevent this risk. Taylor-Smith battled his way through the field in both race one & two whilst still fine tuning his Cupra’s set up and was on the brink of points finishes in both but he certainly saved the best for the last race of the day. The fruits of the teams labour were seen as Taylor-Smith fought tooth and nail with both multiple podium finishers and championship protagonists throughout the race to eventually cross the line in an incredible 13th position, much to everyone’s delight after a hard fought race weekend.
Taylor-Smith Commented: “I could not be happier with the work that was been done by everyone in Team HARD this weekend. Thruxton really threw a spanner in the works in relation to our set-up but they managed to transform the car throughout both Saturday & Sunday to allow me to battle my way back into the points in race three. Honestly, we progressed the car over two seconds per lap on Saturday and managed to find a further second per lap in race performance. That is an incredible achievement and effort by the team and certainly bodes well for when we return to Thruxton in August”
Whilst the season is still in its infancy, Taylor-Smith is sitting in a strong fifth position in the independents championship after another good haul of points at Thruxton and will be looking to build on this in two weeks time at Oulton Park. The BTCC season is coming thick and fast at the moment with the four race weekends within seven weeks, just what Taylor-Smith & Team HARD need after making another huge step in performance at the weekend. Oulton Park resembles the nature of the tracks that have already seen the Cupra be very competitive this season that bodes well for the Irishman.
Taylor-Smith Commented: “I absolutely love Oulton Park and in fact, won my second ever BTCC race at the circuit so I certainly have found memories. I really feel as though we have great momentum within our team after what was a very productive Thruxton event and I am itching to get back out in the car and push on. This is such an exciting project with more potential than anything that I have ever been involved with, we are only starting to scrape at the surface of what is possible and as such, I couldn't be anymore excited to see what we can achieve over the next few race weekends.
The BTCC will return to our screens on ITV4 on June 12th for another three action packed races. Be sure to keep your eyes on Aron’s social media channels for constant updates on the run up to the next race.