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Taylor-Smith kicks off 2024 BTCC with brace of Independent wins

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Árón Taylor-Smith kicked off the 2024 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship in fine fashion, with a brace of Independent victories and a solid points haul at Donington Park last weekend [27-28 April].

Back for another season with Evans Halshaw Power Maxed Racing, the Dubliner arrived in the East Midlands in confident mood, after a positive winter of development on his Vauxhall Astra challenger.

That promise translated very quickly to performance on-track, with the 34-year-old undoubtedly one of the stars of the BTCC’s first-ever “Quick Six” qualifying format, new for the 2024 campaign and reminiscent of the knockout format seen in Formula 1.

Advancing with ease through the first of three eliminations, Taylor-Smith was brutally denied a spot in the six-car shootout for pole position, missing out on the cut by a remarkable three thousandths of a second – less than the blink of an eye!

Nevertheless, seventh on the starting grid for the season opener represented another step forward for Taylor-Smith and the Power Maxed team, with the focus switching to Sunday’s three action-packed races, live on ITV4 and – in a world-first for motorsport – on TikTok.

Even delays induced by torrential rain on Sunday morning couldn’t dampen Taylor-Smith’s spirits and, when the action finally did get underway, he put in an ‘elbows-out’ drive to maintain seventh, despite race-long pressure from a host of the championship’s leading names behind.

Some minor damage sustained to the car shuffled Taylor-Smith back a few spots in a typically hard-fought second contest, but P11 still netted him a second victory of the day among the Independent runners – those not directly backed by a car manufacturer – and put him in the frame for the coveted reverse-grid draw for race three.

As was often the case last season, luck went against the Irishman on this occasion, and, starting in the midfield, he duly rounded out the day in P14, marking a hat-trick of points-scoring finishes, the result of which means Taylor-Smith leaves Donington a credible tenth overall in the standings.

In the Independent Championship standings, Taylor-Smith leads the way after two wins and a second in-class, heading up team-mate Mikey Doble by three points. His efforts have also gone a long way to establishing Evans Halshaw Power Maxed Racing’s early 11-point lead in the Independent Teams’ stakes.

Taylor-Smith carrying the trophy at Donington Park

After a two-week turnaround, the BTCC resumes at Brands Hatch’s Indy circuit on 11-12 May.

Árón Taylor-Smith (#44) said: “After such a productive winter of testing, it was nice to realise that all of our hard work has paid dividends this weekend at Donington Park.

“Reflecting quickly on qualifying, I’m immensely proud that Evans Halshaw Power Maxed Racing and myself were able to compete with all of the championship’s star names and biggest teams over one-lap pace, and we were so unlucky to miss out on the “Quick Six” final.

“To then back that up in race trim with two Independent wins and such a strong points haul is as much as I could have hoped for, so I’m pleased with that.

“Even more positive for the team and I is the fact we also think we’ve uncovered over the course of the race weekend a few more avenues for development to go away and work on ahead of Brands Hatch.

“It really is an ever-evolving process with the Vauxhall Astra at the moment, and it’s very encouraging that, even after such a good step forward in the winter, we’ve still more time to find in the package.

“Our pre-season test at Brands Indy went very well, so I’m full of confidence going there. A final thanks to my partner network for all their fantastic support, both trackside and remotely, and to the entire team – this weekend has, in my opinion, set us up nicely for a really successful 2024.”

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