Aron Taylor-Smith’s preparations for the 2024 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship continue to take shape, ahead of what the Irish driver is calling his “biggest season yet” in the category. It’s a case of “new year, same ambition” for the 33-year-old Dubliner, as he prepares once again to tackle the UK’s premier motorsport championship in a Vauxhall Astra, run by multiple race-winners CarStore Power Maxed Racing.
It’s a partnership that has re-invigorated Taylor-Smith’s touring car career over the past twelve months, including a return to the overall podium, a near-miss for a victory at Silverstone, and a points total higher than the previous two seasons of his career combined. That was all achieved with a limited testing programme due to the late nature of the deal, but it’s a different ball game this time around, as Taylor-Smith explains.
“Continuity is a huge advantage in the BTCC,” he says. “Last season, I effectively had to spend the first half of the year adapting to the car, and integrating myself with the team, given how late we pulled the deal together. But now, I’ve not only got an entire year of data and experience to work from, but also a much clearer picture of where the car needs to go now, and what I need to be able to extract the maximum from it as a driver.”
It was a no-brainer, Taylor-Smith insists, to make CarStore Power Maxed Racing his longer-term home, with the announcement before Christmas that a new multi-year deal had been agreed. “They’re pretty much stuck with me now!” he laughs. “But in all seriousness, it was an easy decision for me to make to commit myself. “This is, in many ways, my biggest season yet in the BTCC. So for me to have that solid foundation, that familiarity, really takes away so many factors that other drivers on the grid will be contending with, so it’s only an advantage.”
The Vauxhall Astra had, until last season, come under a bit of fire as one of the older models on the BTCC grid, but a new lease of life in Taylor-Smith’s hands has led to something of a renaissance. “Old doesn’t necessarily mean uncompetitive! I’ve been around the block a fair bit in this championship, and I can say with confidence that these cars are still not developed to their full potential. It’s a proven race-winner, on multiple occasions, and in my opinion, there’s still a sweet spot to be found. It’s something we’re all working flat out on back at base. “Of course, the championship will be as competitive as ever, so there’s never any guarantee of success, but I feel as if we have a real chance this season to go out and put on a show.”
And Taylor-Smith has plenty of people to put a show on for, with a steady stream of commercial partners renewing their support in the Irishman’s career. “Honestly, the support is quite mind-blowing to me,” admits Taylor-Smith. “It’s me out there on track in the car, but there are so many great people behind the scenes in my partner network who make it all happen. We’re very careful to invite like-minded individuals and companies into our ‘racing family’ as we call it, and it means we’ve surrounded ourselves with great people. “It definitely gives me that extra impetus in the car – as if I needed it – to go out there and perform. Anything we achieve this season; we’ll do it as a collective.”
The new BTCC season is scheduled to begin at Donington Park on 27-28 April 2024.