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Resilience rewards Taylor-Smith with Independents hat-trick at Thruxton

Aron Taylor-Smith’s trademark resilience paid dividends in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton last weekend [8-9 June], helping him to recover from a high-speed crash in qualifying to score a hat-trick of Independent race wins.

The 2.4-mile Hampshire circuit – often billed as the fastest in the UK – has been a happy hunting ground for the Dubliner in previous years, and Taylor-Smith touched down keen to extend his lead in the Independent standings, and to once again showcase the race-winning potential of his Evans Halshaw Power Maxed Racing-run Vauxhall Astra.

Promise in practice – two top-four appearances – should have translated to performance in the all-important qualifying shootout on Saturday afternoon but, having easily cleared Q1, a high-speed crash at Goodwood whilst pushing in Q2 caused extensive left-rear damage to the car.

Having limped the car back to the pits, a stellar turnaround from the team enabled Taylor-Smith to re-join the session in the dying minutes.

With no time to perform the usual tyre warm-up procedure or apply a setup to the car, Taylor-Smith’s work was always cut out, but nevertheless, he was able to secure P12 on the grid, with a time just a tenth of a second adrift of team-mate Mikey Doble ahead.

In race trim, however, Taylor-Smith was able to recover the weekend, using the nous, racecraft and ‘forward-facing’ attitude that has netted the 34-year-old four BTCC victories and over 20 podium finishes outright across his career.

Thruxton always produces action-packed racing, and Taylor-Smith was able to capitalise on the chaos to make progress in the first of three ITV4-televised contests, rising two places to round out the top-ten, and secure a sixth Independent win of the campaign.

He repeated the feat again in race two, passing Chilton’s Hyundai before taking the chequered flag a commendable ninth, plus another Independent triumph. The result also earnt Aron a spot in the coveted reverse-grid draw for race three.

Unfortunately, luck went against the Irishman on this occasion, but from ninth on the grid, Taylor-Smith mucked in with a host of the championship’s leading lights to emerge eighth, underlining once again the car’s potential in race trim, and another ‘Indy’ win to boot.

The net result of all three races means Taylor-Smith extends his lead over Doble in the Independent standings to 10 points, with Evans Halshaw Power Maxed Racing similarly bridging the gap to their nearest rivals among the Independent Teams.

Oulton Park’s Island circuit hosts the next three rounds of the 2024 season on 22-23 June.

Aron Taylor-Smith (#40) said:

“My overriding feeling leaving Thruxton is immense pride, both in the team and myself, for showing resilience and bouncing back from a huge crash in qualifying to achieve three top-ten finishes, and Independent wins, on Sunday.

“It’s always been a good circuit for the Vauxhall Astra, and I’ve enjoyed some great results here in the past, so the potential to do well was always there, and it’s nice to execute it, even with such a big setback, so full credit to everyone for their incredible work.

“I feel as though we’re really starting to establish ourselves now as a credible force up at the front, and race three was very encouraging in that regard, mixing it with the likes of Tom Ingram, Jake Hill, and keeping a whole host of fantastic drivers behind despite pressure.

“We’ve got a couple of weeks to reset and keep learning ahead of Oulton. It’s a track I love, and where I’ve won in the past, so on paper all the ingredients are there for another positive weekend, and for us to make another step forward.”

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