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Árón Taylor-Smith adds another Independent win at rain-soaked Snetterton

Árón Taylor-Smith maintained the upper hand in the Independent standings after splashing his way to a fifth victory in-class on a rain-soaked day in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Snetterton.

A fortnight after showing the pace – if not the luck – to win outright at Brands Hatch, the Dubliner’s focus switched to setting up his Evans Halshaw Power Maxed Racing-run Vauxhall Astra for the technical challenge of the Norfolk circuit’s ‘300’ layout.

After a promising top-ten showing in practice despite a truncated programme, Taylor-Smith went on to qualify second among the Independents – P15 overall – ahead of Sunday’s hat-trick of ITV4-televised races.

Running the medium compound Goodyear tyres for the opener on a dry but greasy circuit after heavy rainfall on Sunday morning, Taylor-Smith made a lightning getaway in the opening race, clearing three cars on the first lap alone en route to P12, and a fifth Independent win of the season.

A second thunderstorm swept Snetterton over the lunch break, delaying the second touring car contest and giving the teams and drivers another strategy call to make regarding tyre choice. Taylor-Smith and the PMR team went bold, bailing for the pit lane at the end of the formation lap to bolt on the soft, slick tyre in the damp-but-drying conditions, and the gamble nearly won them the jackpot.

Having quickly dispensed with each of the previous two champions – first Tom Ingram, then Ash Sutton – plus four-time champion Colin Turkington after re-joining the fray, Taylor-Smith’s pace lit up the timesheets, at its peak almost 10 seconds a lap quicker than the race leader. But the weather gods again intervened, and another rain shower in the closing laps put a halt to a likely race-winning charge up the order. As it was, the #40 took the flag in P12.

With the car forced to run the unfancied Hard tyre for the reverse-grid finale, the odds were always stacked against Taylor-Smith. But, in typical fighting fashion, the 34-year-old put in a gutsy drive with quicker cars around to claim the final points-paying position in P15.

The net result of all three races means Taylor-Smith maintains the lead over team-mate Mikey Doble in the Independent Drivers’ standings, with Evans Halshaw Power Maxed Racing similarly out front among the Independent Teams.

Thruxton – often billed as the UK’s fastest circuit – is the next stop for the BTCC on 8-9 June.

Árón Taylor-Smith (#40) said:

“Well, we can’t say that wasn’t an exciting race day! I’m really happy to pick up my fifth Independent win of the season, which has helped us maintain the Independent championship lead.

“We were incredibly unlucky as a team not to walk away with a victory in race two. That final rain shower really put paid to our charge through on the soft tyres, which was a great strategy call. At one point, we were 10 seconds a lap quicker than the leaders, with 48 seconds to catch, and plenty of laps left. It was definitely possible…

“Unfortunately, the tyres just couldn’t quick keep their performance with that second shower, but it’s still a solid haul of points, and we were able to battle on in race three and add to that again.

“We head to Thruxton in less than two weeks, which has always been a favourite circuit for both myself and the Vauxhall Astra, so fingers crossed we can continue this run of collecting silverware and put on another good showing.”

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