Race winning MINI Challenge driver Rob Smith has confirmed he is targeting a place on the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship grid ‘sooner rather than later’ after enjoying an extremely successful maiden touring car test at Snetterton 300 Circuit.
Joining top BTCC squad Power Maxed Racing at the Norfolk track on 19th October to sample the Chevrolet Cruze which was piloted in the UK’s biggest championship this year by Hunter Abbott, 24-year-old Rob delivered an excellent account of himself.
Adapting to the touring car seamlessly from the 255bhp MINI he normally pilots in the one-make MINI Challenge, the Nantwich-based ‘tin top’ racer says his desire to graduate into the BTCC has only hastened since getting behind the wheel of the Cruze.
“It was all I expected and more, it’s been a long held ambition of mine to drive a BTCC car”, said an elated Rob, “The day went superbly, it showed what a great job the guys at the MINI Challenge have done as it’s prepared me so well for the touring car. I was ready inside five laps, able to acclimatise to the car quickly and feel at home. It was a fantastic first test.
“The lap times were good, I was very happy with the progress we made and the day went pretty much faultlessly. The team did a great job and made the transition even easier, everyone was so helpful. I really liked driving the Chevrolet and I definitely want to be on the BTCC grid sooner rather than later – we’ll be working hard to try and raise the sponsorship to run with a top team like PMR.”
Through the links Power Maxed Racing has with the MINI Challenge, an opportunity for Rob to test with the team in one of its touring cars was a possibility for the official Dunlop tyre test mid-season at Snetterton. While the additional budget wasn’t available at that point, both parties stayed in touch and struck a deal for Rob to make his bow last week.
“Rob performed in a very professional manner, settled into the car straight away and it quickly seemed a natural environment for him”, reflected Power Maxed Racing team manager Martin Broadhurst, “He followed all of the right procedures, behaved like a true professional should and made good gains throughout the test even though we were a bit unfortunate with the weather.”