BRANDS HATCH (7-8 October)
Aron Taylor-Smith remained upbeat despite a difficult end to his 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship campaign at Brands Hatch last weekend
This season has been something of a renaissance for the four-time race winner. Having forged a partnership with a new team in CarStore Power Maxed Racing, and gotten to grips with the team’s Vauxhall Astra challenger, Taylor-Smith has enjoyed a steady uptick in form over the past nine events.
That included ending a seven-year overall podium drought at Donington GP – then backing it up with another trip to the rostrum a fortnight later at Silverstone. The Irishman came within a lap of returning to the winner’s circle in Northamptonshire, too, falling at the last to eventual champion Ash Sutton.
That, plus several Independent Drivers’ victories and a starring role as the de-facto team leader in PMR’s three-car line-up, have all served to reinvigorate not only Taylor-Smith’s standing as one of the series’ leading contenders, but also expectations as driver and team look to build towards a long-term future together.
Brands Hatch holds fond memories as the scene of Aron’s maiden BTCC win back in 2012, but on this occasion, the racing gods had other ideas. Despite placing inside the top-ten and showing good pace in practice, Taylor-Smith could only battle to P15 in a typically hard-fought qualifying session on Saturday afternoon.
An ‘elbows out’ approach paid dividends in the opening race on Sunday in front of a capacity trackside crowd and millions more watching at home on ITV4, as the Dubliner battled his way through the order to P11 at the chequered flag.
That should have put Taylor-Smith in the frame for another reverse grid draw, but a puncture in the second race put paid to his charge, and he was eventually classified P24.
It would be a similar story of misfortune in the season finale, as avoidable contact from another car caused race-ending damage to the Astra whilst Taylor-Smith battled through the order. The culprit went on to finish inside the top ten, highlighting what might have been.
Regardless, however, 2023 has been a year to remember for Aron, CarStore Power Maxed Racing and the entire partner network, and the focus has already shifted to making 2024 even bigger and better.
“It was a tough weekend, but in the grand scheme of things, and the season we’ve had, it means very little. We got unlucky with a few scenarios, but the fundamental performance of the car was in the right window, so that’s all I’m concentrating on – the rest is part and parcel of racing.
“In general, though, I’m so proud of what CarStore Power Maxed Racing and I have achieved across the season. On a personal level for me, I feel like it’s rejuvenated my career, and it’s given me so much motivation to get something sorted to stay here long-term, and to keep building with this incredible team.
“It’s cliché, but I’d love to give a particular shout-out to my partner network. Without them, I’d have to go and find a ‘proper job’, so I’m immensely grateful for their support. I’m not even referring specifically to the financials; it’s been so rewarding for me this year to have passionate, like-minded people in my corner at every race event, and they’ve definitely helped me unlock that extra tenth to kick on up the grid.
“A huge congratulations to Andrew on winning the Jack Sears Trophy, and commiserations to Mikey for finishing second. There always has to be a runner-up, but he’s proven himself to be just as capable as Andrew in his rookie year, and I know both of them will enjoy a good career ahead of them.
“Looking forward now, I’m keen to have a bit of a break and spend some time with my dog Archie, and our little family, but then it’s full focus on 2024, and I hope to be back, continuing this tremendous programme we’ve started to build with the team.”
SILVERSTONE 23-24 September
Aron Taylor-Smith continued his silverware-laden run of form with another podium and Independents win in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Silverstone.
The Irishman arrived at the 1.6-mile Northamptonshire venue, famous worldwide as the venue for the British Grand Prix, riding the crest of a wave after making his first visit to the outright BTCC podium in seven years last time out at Donington Park.
The 33-year-old was immediately on the pace once more, piloting his CarStore Power Maxed Racing-run Vauxhall Astra to the second-fastest time across Saturday’s practice sessions.
The Dubliner then fought his way through an ultra-competitive Q1 to make it into the coveted Top 10 Shootout, before securing a credible eighth on the grid for Sunday’s action, live on ITV4.
Buoyed by the fervent support of a record number of partners and guests at the ‘Home of British Motorsport, Taylor-Smith was again among the front-runners in a chaotic wet-dry opening contest on Sunday morning.
Opting for slick Goodyear tyres amidst the light drizzle, Taylor-Smith initially had to take some pain when the lights went out, slipping back into the midfield behind the wet-shod runners. However, the race came back to ATS late on, and he charged up the order to seventh, a net gain of one position.
With the circuit dry for race two, Taylor-Smith was then able to unleash the potential in the Astra, working his way up to second in the opening exchanges. A mechanical failure for the car ahead then left Aron at the front of the field with a 1.5-second buffer, before it was wiped out by a late-race safety car.
That left Taylor-Smith vulnerable at the restart, with a number of the championship contenders on a charge from the bac, having been displaced by the earlier tyre gamble.
Aron defended valiantly to the last but was pipped to the post by points leader Ash Sutton on the final lap and had to settle for second spot. Nevertheless, it marked a second podium in as many rounds for Taylor-Smith, and a third Independents victory of the 2023 campaign.
He then concluded a strong day’s work with a commendable ninth in the reverse-grid finale, again gaining three spots.
As a result, Taylor-Smith now sits 11th in the Drivers standings, on the cusp of breaking into the top ten with only 13 points separating him from Rory Butcher.
Brands Hatch’s iconic Grand Prix circuit hosts the final three rounds of the 2023 BTCC season on 7-8 October.
Aron Taylor-Smith (#40) said:
“I’m beyond proud of what CarStore Power Maxed Racing and myself have achieved this weekend at Silverstone.
“Podiums are a bit like buses, it seems – you wait for one, and then two come along in quick succession! This has always historically been a strong circuit for the Vauxhall Astra, and the team did a fantastic job to put it in a good window for me to be competitive this weekend.
“I think that second race might put me on the cover of ‘Almost Magazine’! It was a great fight with Ash, and although there’s always a little tinge of disappointment in finishing second, for me it’s another great signal that we’re heading in the right direction with this car and the package.
“It was also great to welcome so many of my wonderful partners and their guests to Silverstone this weekend. Their support is always felt so strongly by myself and the whole team, but it was great to have them all here in person and to celebrate the podium finish together.
“Overall, I’m feeling very satisfied with the weekend, and looking forward to Brands Hatch to finish the season on a high note.”
DONINGTON PARK - GP (26-27 August)
Aron Taylor-Smith scored his first outright podium in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship for seven years with a stunning display at Donington Park’s GP circuit last weekend.
A return to the podium as an Independent race winner last time out at Knockhill gave both driver and team plenty to be optimistic about as the UK’s premier touring car championship returned to the full Grand Prix layout at Donington for the first time in 21 years.
After two solid free practice sessions to kick off the on-track action, Taylor-Smith scored a season-best qualifying result of fifth – but the timing screens didn’t tell the whole story.
Whilst pushing hard on his second run, the Irishman made contact with the tyre stack on the inside kerb of the Fogarty Esses chicane, damaging the right-front of the Vauxhall Astra.
Taylor-Smith pitted immediately for repairs, and quick work from the CarStore Power Maxed Racing mechanics returned the #40 machine to the fray, with time remaining for one final flying effort.
And boy, did Taylor-Smith fly, plucking a lap seemingly from nowhere to move from P22 to an eventual fifth on the grid, putting the 33-year-old in the frame for a successful Sunday in front of a capacity crowd – plus millions more at home on ITV4.
Race day brought about overcast skies, and the forecasted rain arrived prior to the start of the opening race, moving the entire field to Goodyear wet tyres.
Taylor-Smith was bested on the run down to the first corner by Adam Morgan’s fast-starting BMW, but responded immediately, and re-took fifth spot with a bold dive to the inside at the Melbourne hairpin.
Both cars would fall behind a charging Jake Hill in the latter stages, but sixth was still enough to secure Taylor-Smith a second Independents win in successive race meetings.
The circuit had dried by the time race two rolled around, and Taylor-Smith’s Vauxhall struggled to adapt to the conditions. Aron put in a typically stoic defence to round out the top ten and put himself in the frame for the coveted reverse grid draw.
At long last, luck fell the Dubliner’s way, reversing Taylor-Smith to third on the grid from the finale. From there, he turned in one of the drives of his career to score his first outright BTCC podium in seven years.
A robust defence into Redgate on the first lap kept Taylor-Smith ahead of Morgan on this occasion, then another lunge into the Melbourne hairpin put the Vauxhall second past Tom Chilton’s Hyundai.
The jubilation in the garage would be short-lived, however, as Rory Butcher’s Toyota hung out around the outside of the Craner Curves to move alongside Taylor-Smith. Opting for discretion as the better part of valour, Aron conceded into the Old Hairpin, maintaining third.
Race leader Daniel Lloyd had scarpered clear in the opening laps but suffered a cruel driveshaft failure just a few corners from the chequered flag to promote Taylor-Smith to a stunning second.
2,555 days since he last stood on the overall BTCC podium, Taylor-Smith returned to the rostrum to collect second spot, and another Independent victory to a warm reception from the gathered crowd.
His efforts across the weekend have moved him up to second in the Independent Drivers’ Championship and cemented the same position for CarStore Power Maxed Racing in the Independent Teams’ competition.
Following a three-week break, the series reconvenes at Silverstone’s National circuit for the penultimate round of the season on 23-24 September.
“Coming into the weekend, I had a feeling this could be a special one, based on our performance here during the Goodyear tyre test.
“But, to come away with two Independent wins and an outright podium is something I’m immensely proud of.
“It’s an absolute testament to everything that CarStore Power Maxed Racing have done with this Vauxhall Astra, in giving me a package that can compete at the front of the field with the best of the best.
“It’s not lost on me how difficult that is to achieve – I have seven years without a podium as a reference point!
“Without Adam’s belief in me, without the support of Martin and the whole team, there’s no way I’d be doing what I am doing. I feel like they have resurrected my touring car career and I couldn’t be any happier.
“We’re heading to Silverstone next, which is one of the circuit’s I’d circled in my calendar as one where the car has been historically strong, and I think will be again, so I think we can kick on from this and enjoy a really strong end to the season.”.
KNOCKHILL (12-13 AUGUST)
Aron Taylor-Smith made a return to the podium in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship after a starring role in the series’ trip to Knockhill this weekend.
The Irishman returned to the Fife circuit – scene of his BTCC debut back in 2011 – looking to make good on his recent points-scoring form and take that next step in pursuit of silverware.
Taylor-Smith turned in consistently quick laps throughout practice, which should have translated into another qualifying top ten shootout appearance, but rain – then a drying track surface as the session progressed, saw the times tumble, and the Vauxhall Astra came to rest in P12.
Ironically, it would be the weather that caused a dramatic upturn in fortunes for the CarStore Power Maxed Racing squad on race day.
Having started on slicks, the heavens opened after a few laps of the opening contest. Taylor-Smith judged the conditions expertly, and pitted just before half-distance for wet-weather Goodyear tyres.
That proved to be the right choice, and as those who persisted with slicks pitted later, they fell back down the order, with Taylor-Smith eventually taking the chequered flag in sixth spot.
If that boosted morale within the awning, the second race of the weekend raised the mood to fever pitch, as Taylor-Smith bagged fourth in fine fashion, and made a return to the podium with victory among the Independent runners.
First, Taylor-Smith dispatched Pearson’s Hyundai for fifth spot at MacIntyre’s, before sending a sweet move to the inside of team-mate Andrew Watson at Clark’s a few corners later for fourth.
His work was far from done there; a host of the series’ leading lights applied plenty of pressure to the rear of the Vauxhall Astra but, using over a decade of experience in the UK’s premier tin-top series, the 33-year-old held firm to score a season-best result.
For once in 2023, the reverse grid draw fell kindly for Taylor-Smith, keeping him fourth for the final race of the day. Torrential rain fell as the cars lined up for the start, prompting the team to make a late switch to wet-weather tyres, in the hope of a repeat of race one’s heroics.
But a problem after a few laps behind the safety car forced Aron to head for the pit lane, although quick work from the team got him back out on the lead lap.
From adversity, Taylor-Smith battled back to a relative triumph, slicing his way through the order in the tricky conditions to claim the final points-paying position in P15.
As a result, he moves up to 12th in the championship, fourth in the Independents Trophy, and his successes contributed to CarStore Power Maxed Racing cementing second in the Independent Teams’ Championship.
After a two-week turnaround, the series reconvenes back at Donington Park on 26-27 August, for the BTCC’s first trip to the full Grand Prix loop in 20 years.
“What a weekend it has been. I’m feeling really pumped, not just because of the results, but also the performance of the CarStore Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra. This is easily the best this car has gone here in many years, and it was an absolute pleasure to drive.
“Everybody within the team has performed at such a high level, whether that’s in the preparation of the cars, making big strategy calls like we had to in race one, or being quick on their feet in high-pressure moments like the pit stop in race three to get me back out on track.
“So, these results are as much for them and my fantastic team of partners, as they are for me. To be back on the podium in the BTCC was a real pleasure – although the champagne tastes a little more watered down than I remember!
“And even in the last race, to come back from P27 to P15, in such dreadful conditions, really highlights to me the potential we have in this car. It’s clear to me that we would have been in the mix up at the front, had our luck run differently.
“Overall, I’m leaving Knockhill feeling so positive about the car, this team, and the direction we’re heading in at the moment. I can’t wait to get to Donington in two weeks’ time and build on this.”
OULTON PARK 17/18 JUNE
Aron Taylor-Smith was left frustrated after a season-best qualifying performance in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park last weekend came unstuck on race day.
The Irishman was one to watch throughout Saturday as he proved once again that he is one of the fastest on this year’s grid, highlighted by a superb run in free practise where he sat at the top of the times until the dying few minutes but still ended up an incredible third position ahead of qualifying. This from continued into qualifying as he put in a tremendous lap on his final run in Q1 to make the coveted top-ten shootout, before setting the eighth quickest time around the 2.2-mile Cheshire circuit to secure a fourth row starting slot.
Sunday dawned with plenty of promise, but the 33-year-old would be left rueing his misfortune just hours later after being innocently collected in another driver’s accident during the opening race.
Enjoyed a spirited battle for eighth, Taylor-Smith was collected on the apex at Druids by an out-of-control Daniel Rowbottom, with the NAPA Ford sending the Vauxhall Astra into the barriers at high-speed.
A tremendous repair job by the CarStore Power Maxed Racing team meant the unharmed Taylor-Smith would return to the fray in time for race two, and in boisterous fashion he set about making amends, rising six spots to P19.
Rain had been forecast to hit the circuit in time for the final contest, but never arrived. Anchored in the midfield, and on the unfavoured Hard Goodyear tyre, it was always going to be an uphill task for Taylor-Smith to salvage points from the weekend.
He came oh-so-close, running P16 before contact whilst battling Dexter Patterson’s CUPRA for the final points-paying position forced the Dubliner to retire to the pits.
Nonetheless, the weekend stands as another timely reminder that Taylor-Smith is a force to be reckoned with in the UK’s premier tin-top series once more, as the series embarks on a six-week summer break.
Croft hosts the next three rounds of the 2023 season on 29-30 July.
“We arrived at Oulton with a lot of potential, and I think we definitely made the most of that, as far as qualifying goes. I was really happy to make the top-ten shootout, and I think, in an ideal scenario, the weekend would have come to us from there.
“Unfortunately, I got taken out in race one by Daniel having an accident at Druids. Whatever the reason for it, we’ve had a chat and I’ve accepted the apology, and I do appreciate him coming to speak to me about it.
“But that was effectively ‘it’ for us, then. I’m so proud of the team for getting the car turned around for race two, and hopefully a bit of an overtaking show was a fitting reward!
“We’d hoped the forecasted rain would hit for race three and give us a bit of a boost, but it wasn’t to be, and then more contact forced us to park up.
“It’s definitely one that falls under ‘frustrating’, but I’m big enough and bold enough to lick my wounds, process the weekend and start analysing where we go from here to keep progressing at Croft after the break.”
05/06/2023: Aron Taylor-Smith realises front-running ambitions at
Aron Taylor-Smith’s ambitions of returning to the front of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship edged a step nearer with three impressive top ten finishes at a sun-soaked Thruxton last weekend [3-4 June].
The Irishman made the journey to the high-speed, 2.4-mile Hampshire circuit buoyed after a starring role live on ITV4 last time at Snetterton, and with the Vauxhall Astras historically strong track record at Thruxton in the forefront of his mind.
And that proved to be the case once more in qualifying, with Taylor-Smith securing a season-best eighth, ahead of a host of the championship’s other household names.
After losing ground in the opening exchanges, a typically spirited fightback put Taylor-Smith in the mix come the business end of the first race.
Capitalising on team-mate Mikey Doble’s late-race defensive antics, Taylor-Smith swept to the inside of Allard to pass Ricky Collard’s Toyota, then promoted himself to ninth moments later with a bold dive to the inside of Adam Morgan’s BMW at the complex.
There he would remain, taking the chequered flag just seven tenths adrift of Doble in one of the team’s strongest outings of the season to-date.
That particular inter-team battle swung back in Taylor-Smith’s favour at the start of race two, a better getaway for Aron moving him swiftly up to eighth spot. There, the Astra held its own in a hard-fought but largely uneventful second race.
Taylor-Smith was able to close onto the back of Rory Butcher’s Toyota but, with laps running out, a low-risk opportunity to force the issue never materialised for the four-time race winner. That eighth-place finish meant that, for the second weekend in succession, the CarStore Power Maxed Racing driver would be in the frame for the coveted reverse grid draw.
Although not the ideal scenario, with the maximum twelve cars inverted, Taylor-Smith was at least bumped up to fifth on the grid for the finale, from which he was able to claim a season-best sixth, and as part of the leading gaggle of cars dicing it out for the spoils up front.
As a result, Taylor-Smith leaves Thruxton fifth in the Independents Trophy, and with CarStore Power Maxed Racing third in the Teams’ equivalent, and with every opportunity to make up further ground on the points summit at Oulton Park in a fortnight. [17-18 June].
Aron (#40) said:
“It’s been a great day, with three top-ten finishes in what is widely regarded as the pinnacle of touring car racing worldwide. We know this is a strong circuit for the Astra, but I think regardless of that, we’ve also been able to keep moving the package forward into a real sweet spot.
“It’s certainly no small effort, and sixth in particular during the last race is something to be really proud of. This year, for me, is all about just being back in the fight at the front, and we certainly took another important step towards that this weekend.
“But it’s about more than me, and I absolutely love being able to reward the guys and girls at CarStore Power Maxed Racing for all their hard work. They’ve had a rough time in the last few years, and it’s great to see everyone upbeat and enjoying their racing.
“This is the most enjoyable year of racing I’ve had in probably about ten years. I think there’s a bright future ahead, and I can’t wait to keep the momentum rolling when we rock up at Oulton in a couple of weeks and see what we can do.”
Aron Taylor-Smith enjoyed a starring role for CarStore Power Maxed Racing at Snetterton last weekend [20-21 May], scoring a double points finish for the team in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship.
The Irishman made the long trip over to the 2.97-mile Norfolk venue buoyed by the return trackside of wife Lauren and their newborn daughter, Oaklie, and aiming to bounce back after a difficult weekend at Brands Hatch a fortnight prior.
From the get-go, the team demonstrated plenty of pace in the Vauxhall Astra, with Taylor-Smith among the five fastest runners in practice.
The 33-year-old then did well to salvage 12th on the grid from a frustrating qualifying session, punctuated by red flag stoppages, and as the highest-placed car within the team.
In race trim, Taylor-Smith starred on Sunday in front of a capacity crowd at a sun-soaked Snetterton, as well as many more watching at home on ITV4.
From the sixth row, Taylor-Smith made the most of his soft compound tyres in the opening race to move up the field and claim the final spot inside the top ten.
New for this weekend, each car in the championship had to run one of each Goodyear tyre compound – Soft, Medium, and Hard – with steadily declining performance across the range. Now on the Mediums, Taylor-Smith put in arguably the drive of the weekend in race two.
Having made early progress off the start, the Dublin ace was quickly vulnerable to a group of cars running the softer rubber behind. What followed, however, was nothing short of a defensive masterclass, with Taylor-Smith expertly positioning the Astra on each apex to keep the group at bay.
That earned him a second points finish in a row in P12, which also kept him in the mix for the reverse grid draw, although on this occasion, fate did not fall the team’s way.
That made the finale an uphill task, and whilst battling away for position, contact from behind pitched Taylor-Smith into the barrier at Williams and, although he was able to continue under his own power, it meant limping back to the pits to retire the car early.
But, having made another step forward in car performance, the team now looks ahead with optimism to the next three rounds at Thruxton on 3-4 June.
“I feel we got everything we could out of the CarStore Power Maxed Racing Astra this weekend, and I’m particularly pleased with the performance in both races one and two.
“It’s always nice to be battling against the manufacturer-supported programmes, and to put on the show that we did. I particularly enjoyed race two, it was nice to be right in the thick of the action from the start to the end.
“Race three was just unfortunate contact from another driver, which put us out of the race. There’s nothing I could have done to avoid it. It was a shame because the car felt very strong, and I think we could have challenged for a top ten.
“But that is life, after reviewing the judicials, there’s nothing more I could have done. Overall, I’m very happy with our performance.
“In my opinion, we were strong from the get-go all weekend, which bodes well heading to a historically strong circuit for the Astra in Thruxton. We’ve shown our potential across all three races, and we can build on this at the next round.”
BRANDS HATCH (Indy) 6-7 May - Rounds 4,5,6.
Lady Luck deserts Aron Taylor-Smith on tricky trip to Brands Hatch
AM Phillip Trucktech backed Aron Taylor-Smith was able to salvage some points from a mixed visit to Brands Hatch in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship last weekend [6-7 May].
The Irishman arrived at the 1.2-mile Kent circuit, the scene of his debut victory in the BTCC back in 2012, buoyed by the arrival of new daughter Oaklie, and after a promising start to the 2023 campaign for the CarStore Power Maxed Racing squad.
That was only heightened after the 33-year-old came within a whisker of making it into the coveted top-ten shootout in qualifying, with Taylor-Smith just 0.090 seconds adrift in a session interrupted consistently by red flags, and in treacherously wet conditions.
In race trim, however, ‘Lady Luck’ went against the four-time race winner. After a bright start and places gained in the opening contest, a small component failure limited Taylor-Smith’s progress, and he did well to bring the car home where it started – P12 – and add to his points tally for the season.
That would be where the day’s action, in effect, ended however, with an engine problem forcing Taylor-Smith to park up early in race two and, despite the best efforts of the team, the subsequent turnaround time before the final race left them with an impossible task to return Aron to the fray.
Snetterton’s 300 circuit hosts the next three rounds of the championship on 20-21 May.
“On weekends like this, all we can do is take the positives. We were nine hundredths off making the top-ten shootout, so we can safely say we’ve unlocked a little bit more one-lap pace in the Vauxhall Astra.
“All was going well in the first race, but there was a small component failure on the car – nothing the team could have controlled or foreseen – and that limited how much I could progress from there. Even to come home with the points is something I’m really happy about.
“Race two started quite well, but as early as the opening lap, I could feel something was astray with the engine. From deep-diving into the data, we had two separate issues, both of which unfortunately brought about an untimely end to said engine.
“The team did all they could to get me back out, but with only an hour turnaround, it wasn’t to be. But we have a very fast car, and I know we can build on that. It feels worse when you’re at the back thinking ‘we’re struggling for pace’, but this isn’t that. The stars just didn’t align for us today, and that’s life, but we’ll re-group and come back stronger in two weeks’ time.
“It’ll also be the first time I’ve had little Oaklie at the circuit with me, and Lauren will be back too, so I’m sure that’s going to give me an extra spring in my step – and hopefully an extra tenth or two out on track.”
DONNINGTON PARK 22-23 April - Rounds 1,2,3.
Aron Taylor-Smith opened his 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship campaign with a brace of top-ten appearances at Donington Park last weekend [22-23 April].
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.
And 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.
Aron 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.”
A.M. Phillip Trucktech joins forces with Taylor-Smith for 2023 British Touring Car Championship campaign
19 April 2023
A.M. Phillip Trucktech, Scotland’s leading commercial vehicle specialist, is delighted to announce an exciting new partnership with multiple British Touring Car Championship race winner Árón Taylor-Smith ahead of the 2023 season.
The A.M. Phillip Trucktech name is synonymous with excellence throughout Scotland due to having six dealerships retailing the iconic IVECO range. A.M. Phillip Trucktech was originally formed in 1955 and is renowned as being the largest IVECO dealership in Scotland on top of representing both Ford and Fiat commercial vehicles. Motorsport has long been in the DNA of the company with the founder, Eck Phillip, having raced in the Isle of Man TT and most recently with the company being the headline sponsor of iconic Highland Car Club Snowman Rally.
Taylor-Smith commented: “It is brilliant to welcome A.M. Phillip Trucktech into the BTCC for what looks to be a really exciting season. The company are famous for their relationship with the IVECO brand throughout Scotland and it will be great to cement the name at the pinnacle of British Motorsport. The first thing that became very apparent to me was how invested the company are in motorsport and this makes such a difference. Yes, there are obvious commercial benefits to the BTCC but working with a company who are actively interested in the sport is what really brings it to life. I can’t wait to put on a show throughout the season and give everyone at A.M. Phillip Trucktech something to cheer about on race days!”
With a new season comes a fresh challenge for Taylor-Smith as one of the pivotal moves of the 2023 off season was the Irishman’s switch to join CarStore Power Maxed Racing, and the 33-year-old has spent recent weeks getting to grips with his new Vauxhall Astra as he prepares for a ninth year in the UK’s premier tin-top series. The fans favourite has accumulated twenty podiums during his successful career in the BTCC and to this day remains the only Irishman to win a race in the championship in over thirty years. The thirty-three year old debuted in the series in 2012 and won a race in his first season, immediately marking him as one to watch for the future. Taylor-Smith continued in the BTCC for a subsequent five years before taking a sabbatical to focus on a GT program throughout Europe.
Taylor-Smith commented: “I may be biased but I personally feel as though the BTCC is the best form of motorsport in the world! We have an enormous marketing reach that sets us above any other domestic championship and above all else; the racing is the best of the best. I have to say that the early signs of joining CarStore PowerMax Racing are very positive as both the car and crew are at the top of their game. This team change would not have been possible without the support of my partner network and I am delighted to welcome A.M. Phillip Trucktech into this fold. I can already tell that this will be a long lasting relationship as our objectives perfectly align in terms of what we want to achieve.”
Whilst A.M. Phillip Trucktech is located in the Scottish region, their network expands far beyond this territory, which perfectly coincides with the nationwide reach of the BTCC. The home race at Knockhill will be a great opportunity for the company to experience the trackside action but a larger activation plan is already in place to capitalise on the marketing exposure received via the ITV coverage of the championship that surpassed a viewership of nineteen million in 2022. The iconic A.M. Phillip Trucktech branding will be seen on board Taylor-Smith’s Vauxhall Astra in a matter of days as the championship kicks off at Donington Park on April 23rd for the first race of the 2023 season.
Grant McLean of AM Phillip Trucktech commented: “I personally have been a long supporting fan of the British Touring Car Championship and I am very aware of the marketing benefits associated with the series. On top of this, Árón was able to tailor a program to fit within the A.M. Phillip Trucktech marketing objectives and this has allowed us to embark on a very exciting chapter in the history of the company. As a company, we are all very excited to support Árón throughout the season and look forward to cheering him on both on ITV but also when we are trackside.”
Be sure to keep an eye on both the A M Phillip Trucktech and Taylor-Smith’s social media channels over the next few weeks to be kept up to date on all things BTCC related.