Oulton Park, Cheshire, UK – Monday 8th June 2015: The 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship moved to Oulton Park for rounds 10, 11 and 12 and Árón Smith was hoping he could emulate his 2014 performance where he secured Team BMR’s maiden race victory. The Irishman was coming off the back of a mixed weekend at the high-speed Thruxton some three weeks previous.
Smith got his weekend off to a strong start with the fourth fastest time in Saturday morning’s free practice. With a sense of changeable conditions in the air, Smith utilised the second and final free practice session of the day to try a number of setup adjustments to his Team BMR Volkswagen. Finishing the session in seventh, Árón remained confident that he had a strong package for Saturday afternoon’s qualifying.
With dark clouds looming, many teams had one eye on the sky as qualifying got under way. Smith was unlucky to have his fastest lap removed during the session for track limits, but still managed to secure the seventh fastest time of the session, narrowly starting his final flying lap just before the chequered flag.
Sunday morning was greeted with glorious sunshine at the Cheshsire circuit, which had attracted a now customary large crowd. Starting from row four, Smith got a good start and immediately focused his attentions on passing teammate Colin Turkington. Running on Dunlop’s Soft Tyre, Árón’s intentions were clear that he was out to secure the fastest lap of the race towards his race two starting position. With Turkington suffering from brake problems, Smith was promoted to sixth as he now set about chasing down Gordon Shedden. A superb run out of the final corner allowed Smith to pass Shedden into Old Hall Corner and move up to fifth. Despite a series of blistering laps eating into their extensive advantage, Árón couldn’t catch the lead group and took the chequered flag in fifth.
Starting race two again from seventh, Smith was keen to capitalise on Dunlop’s standard tyre in the warmer afternoon track conditions. A good start allowed him to pass Jeff Smith into the first corner. With Adam Morgan hot on his heels, Árón played the defensive game early in the race before under steer issues with his Passat CC allowed both Morgan and Tordoff to slip past on lap 10. However on the final lap, contact up ahead between the BMW’s of Andy Priaulx and Rob Collard promoted Smith to seventh place at the finish.
Just missing out on the reverse grid draw for race three, Smith made it three seventh place starts from three races for the final race of the weekend. Acting as the meat in a Team BMR sandwich between teammates Jason Plato and Colin Turkington, Árón made a strong start to the race and put former champion Plato under pressure early in proceedings. Just past the midway point in the race, Colin Turkington found a way past as Smith continued to struggled with the front of his Volkswagen Passat. Keen to secure a trio of consistent points finishes, Smith maintained his seventh position to the flag.
Árón Smith – #40 Team BMR Volkswagen Passat CC:
“It’s been a funny old weekend really as we seem to have stuck to the number seven for most of it! Overall it hasn’t been a bad weekend. Our last couple of weekends have been a bit up and down, so this weekend has been good in terms of securing three good finishes towards the championship. Oulton is a tricky track to make up places and qualifying didn’t exactly hook up for me. From that point onwards it was a case of delivering three sensible drives and collecting a heap of points. I’ve left Oulton happy with my performance and we’ve some testing planned before Croft which will be a big positive.”