Árón Taylor-Smith impresses at 2023 BTCC season opener
Árón Taylor-Smith impresses at 2023 BTCC season opener Taylor-Smith opened his 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship campaign with a brace of top-ten finishes.
Refreshed and ready for a new season, and now armed with a new team and car in CarStore Power Maxed Racing and the Vauxhall Astra, Taylor-Smith made the journey to the 1.96-mile Leicestershire circuit buoyed by a positive pre-season testing programme.
The Irishman went close to making an immediate statement in qualifying. On a lap good enough to put Taylor-Smith into the coveted top-ten shootout alongside team-mate Andrew Watson, red flags were flown to recover a car stranded at the first corner.
That forced the 33-year-old to abort his flying lap, leaving Taylor-Smith in P16 for the first of three races over the weekend. The response, however, only served to underline the inherent performance in the new driver-car combination.
From the eighth row, Taylor-Smith immediately started to make progress through the field, including two positions on a hectic opening lap.
Amidst two safety car restarts, Aron continued to climb. He took the chequered flag an impressive tenth, among the highlights passes on four-time champion Colin Turkington and Rory Butcher, one of the pre-season favourites.
A repeat performance looked likely in race two, with Taylor-Smith gaining a spot on the first lap to run ninth. As rain began to fall, however, the slick tyres lost their performance, and those who had gambled on wets made their way to the front.
That left Taylor-Smith in P21 at the flag, and on the grid for the final race of the weekend. What followed was another statement drive, the Dublin-based racer storming through the pack in a typical, gusty touring car drive, to take a weekend-best result of ninth.
Despite a rollercoaster of a triple-header, Taylor-Smith leaves the opening event 14th overall, fourth in the Independents’ standings, and with CarStore Power Maxed Racing at the top of the Independent Teams Championship.
Brands Hatch’s 1.2-mile Indy circuit hosts the next three rounds on 6-7 May.
Árón Taylor-Smith said: “This has been a really strong start for the whole team. What we have is a really fantastic baseline with this car, and it’s clear the work we’ve put in over the winter is paying off in the performance we’ve had this weekend.
“A huge thanks to the whole team, my sponsors – everybody who is putting into this programme and helping us move up the grid. It was great to have a car underneath me today I could attack with, and really push. I think it’s going to be a very fun season ahead.”
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