The British Touring Car Championship took centre stage at a scorching Snetterton with another action packed weekend that saw Taylor-Smith rack up his best qualifying result of the season to date while battling temperatures in excessive of thirty degrees over the course of the weekend.
The Irish ace was confident heading into the longest circuit on the BTCC calendar as the team began to unlock some of the CUPRA’s one lap pace which was shown by Taylor-Smith topping the time sheets at the last race weekend. The race weekend started off in it’s unusual fashion where drivers get to complete two forty-minute practise sessions that allow them to acclimate to the scorching temperatures and also fine tune their machinery ahead of the all important qualifying session. The CUPRA has been renowned for it’s incredible race pace as demonstrated by Taylor-Smith carving his way through the pack during previous race days but one key area of focus is the cars ‘one lap’ pace in which the team have been focusing on since the mid season break. A change of engineering personal paid dividends at Knockhill when Taylor-Smith was fastest in practise and this form hoped to be a marker for what is to come over the second half of the season.
Taylor-Smith lined up alongside multiple race and championship winner, Gordon Shedden, for race one and in typical fashion got a lightening start to jump a number of cars through both turn one and two. At one point he was in a high of 12th position before being pushed wide by an overly aggressive move from another driver. This say him drop by down to 15th with a damaged cooling package that he had to nurse home to finish in a challenging 17th position but more importantly a very strong 6th position in the independents championship.
Taylor-Smith commented: “We got an absolute rocket of a start and straight away were running in a very strong position. It’s always so frustrating when another driver makes a stupid move that ends up damaging your car and then you have to limp it home. Sometimes it feels as though if I didn’t have bad luck then I would have no luck at all!”
The Irishman put the battles of race one behind him for race two and once again showed his talent on the opening lap while we battled to the cuff of the top ten. The battles raged on throughout the duration of the race that saw car 40 putting on a valiant fight that caught the attention of the ITV cameras for the majority of the race. The cameras followed Taylor-Smith over the course of the twelve lap race as he was enthralled in a race long battle as cars fought for every position possible in the 32-degree heat. As seen by the millions of viewers during the live TV broadcast on centre stage ITV, Taylor-Smith crossed the line in an eventual 16th position while being the top performing CUPRA and also finishing in a very strong sixth position in the independents standings.
Taylor-Smith commented: “I feel as though I didn’t have five seconds to myself during that race! It was a combination of being on the attack and being tactically defensive but if nothing else, it made for some good TV while I nearly melted away in the car! The fact is we have a car that is capable of the top ten but once again, after a great start I fell victim to some overzealous moves on the opening lap, which saw me, drop back down the standings. However, it was still one of our strongest relative pace races of the season to date and I feel confident of points in the final race.”
Unfortunately a run of bad luck seemed to continue for Taylor-Smith for race three. The car crew were ready to go to the grid while during the final stages of the run up procedure a split fuel line was discovered on car 40 which meant that the team had to replace one of the major components prior to the start of the race. However, there simply wasn’t enough time to get this work completed before the start of the race which meant that the session was merely a test run for Taylor-Smith without having the opportunity to fight for points after starting from the pit lane.
The BTCC has another tight turnaround with the cars heading back to the UK’s fasted circuit of Thruxton in a matter of two weeks where Taylor-Smith hopes to bounce back into the points after a very strong showing on the first visit to the circuit earlier this year.