Picture of Prosperity


Aron Taylor-Smith Extends Lead in Independents Trophy at Brands Hatch

Aron Taylor-Smith extended his lead in the Independents Trophy and his race-winning potential once again as the British Touring Car Championship resumed at Brands Hatch Indy last weekend [11-12 May].

After a double victory in-class and a strong points haul at the Donington Park season-opener, the Irishman and his Evans Halshaw Power Maxed Racing team arrived at the iconic 1.2-mile Kent venue keen to build on recent promise. Promise translated to performance out on-track right from the get-go, with the Dubliner fastest in the opening practice session on board his Vauxhall Astra challenger.

Among undoubtedly the most-competitive grid globally in touring car racing, Taylor-Smith was brutally denied a chance to repeat his qualifying form from Donington, his fastest time only a tenth shy of those in the coveted ‘Quick Six’ shootout. That put the 34-year-old back in the pack in P14, ahead of three typically action-packed races, staged in front of a capacity crowd, the Taylor-Smith partner network, and millions more via ITV4’s live television coverage on Sunday.

In the opener, a lightning getaway immediately moved Taylor-Smith up three places, before a bold dive to the inside of Paddock Hill Bend on multiple World Touring Car Champion Rob Huff in the closing stages of the race duly promoted Taylor-Smith to tenth. If the first race was an exhibition of the race craft that has made Taylor-Smith a 20-time podium finisher in the UK’s premier tin-top series, the second was a textbook example of his tenacity.

Heavy contact from another car at the Druids hairpin knocked the Vauxhall Astra sideways through the grass. Quick footwork on the pedals from Taylor-Smith straightened the hatchback up and, after re-joining, he duly worked his way past several cars, despite being on the less-favoured Medium compound tyres, back to tenth.

Benefitting from the reverse-grid draw and lining up on the front row for the finale, quick reflexes promoted Taylor-Smith to the race lead, only for a robust move at Clearways to drop him back to second. Conserving both tyres and Hybrid deployment in preparation for a fightback, Taylor-Smith was then hit from behind into Paddock, shuffling him back to fourth in a race that could have been for the #40.

Albeit tinged with disappointment, the result only served to emphasize the progress made by Evans Halshaw Power Maxed Racing over the past twelve months; for perspective, at the same event twelve months ago, the team managed a solitary P12 finish.

The net result of all three races moves Taylor-Smith ten points clear of team-mate Doble at the top of the Independent Trophy standings. Evans Halshaw Power Maxed Racing remain the team to beat in the Independent Teams’ standings, with a 22-point advantage over their nearest rival.

The BTCC reconvenes in a fortnight at Snetterton’s 300 circuit [25-26 May].

Aron Taylor-Smith (#40) said:

“All in all, this has been another really positive weekend for me and the whole team at Brands Hatch.

“Throughout Saturday, we were right in the mix as one of the fastest cars on track, and with the support of the whole team at Evans Halshaw Power Maxed Racing, I was able to go into race day with a very clearly-defined strategy for how we wanted to attack the day.

“Two top-ten finishes despite some setbacks gave us a really solid foundation to then go aggressive with the soft tyres in race three, and a victory was definitely on the cards after getting the lead at the start, with the better tyres and plenty of Hybrid use in hand.

“I fought as hard as I could to keep it, but it was classic touring car racing – door-to-door action, no quarter given – but I enjoyed every second of it and was glad to put on a show for everybody out in the sun watching us, and on television at home.

“To get two more Independent wins, sure up that championship lead and be fighting at the front end has really validated for me that we’re on the right path, and I’ve no doubt we’ll live up to that potential in the near future.”

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