Croft, Dalton-on-Tees, UK – Monday 29th June 2015: Aron Smith saw recurrent gearbox problems restrict him to a pair of twelfth place finishes during a trying weekend in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Croft.
The annual trip to the North Yorkshire circuit hasn’t proved fruitful for Smith in the past, and so it proved again this year as promising practice pace went unrewarded on race day.
Smith had settled into the top six from the off in the opening free practice session, a late time of 1m 25.454s putting him fifth fastest overall as the quickest of the Team BMR Volkswagen CC’s.
A strong run in the second session produced another top ten standing, a result he was unlucky not to replicate in qualifying as his best effort of 1m 24.718s put him eleventh on the grid.
Smith was only a quarter of a second shy of the best FWD effort however and he was confident of moving up the order on race day to add to his seven top ten finishes so far this season.
Unfortunately a gearbox problem hit at the start of the opening race, dropping him back to seventeenth in the thick of the frantic midfield action. That allowed Smith to show his overtaking prowess though as he impressively fought through to twelfth at the flag.
In a bid to solve the problems, the team elected to change his gearbox in-between the two races, however their mammoth effort fell just shy of the curfew for making it to the grid, forcing Smith to start from the pitlane.
The Irishman expertly scythed his way up the order again from 28th to 16th at the finish, before gaining further ground in the final race to secure another twelfth place finish despite a recurrence of the gearbox troubles hampering his charge.
The results mean Smith slips to eleventh in the championship standings, but with a six week summer break before the next meeting at Snetterton on August 8/9, he is confident of ironing out the problems and battling back at the front in the second half of the year.
Árón Smith – #40 Team BMR Volkswagen Passat CC:
“Croft is a circuit that doesn’t favour the Volkswagen, and while normally in qualifying I can find that elusive last tenth or two to put myself in contention, I didn’t manage to this weekend and that left me in the part of the grid that makes the races hard work.”
“The issue with the gearbox came up in race one, it meant I couldn’t get it off the line and meant I struggled for the first six laps or so. We came on strong as the race wore on though and picked our way through to twelfth which I was happy with.”
“The gearbox came out between races one and two, which meant we ended up starting from the pitlane, so the drive up to sixteenth was good considering. The gearbox issue reared its head again in race three, so It was a bit challenging coming back through the grid, I generally find unless you’re racing inside the top six you can expect a bit of trouble.”
“The car is very strong and this gearbox issue is just genuine bad luck, it’s unfortunate but that’s life – I know the guys at Team BMR are doing a great job. Hopefully we’ve got it all out of our system now and we can go into the second half of the season with a fresh start and give it the big one!”