Goodride Performance Tyres and Grouptyre-backed Renault UK Clio Cup racer Rob Smith has his sights fixed on a suitably strong start to the 2013 season at Brands Hatch next weekend, 30th/31st March, off the back of a tremendously competitive top six performance in official pre-season testing.
At a cold and overcast Silverstone on Thursday, 21st March, the 20-year-old was in sparkling form and steered his Dunlop-shod 2.0-litre Clio Cup car to sixth quickest on the combined timesheets with a best lap of 1m05.981s (89.50mph).
Ending the outing little more than 0.1 seconds away from the top of the times, the Telford driver heads to Brands Hatch next weekend – for the first two races of his second season in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship support category – aiming for a career-best Clio Cup finish.
“Silverstone was very encouraging, in fact it’s been a pretty encouraging pre-season all round really”, said the Total Control Racing driver, “We’ve been on the pace everywhere we’ve been and the run yesterday only consolidated that.
“It’d be nice to be fighting for podiums at Brands, we won’t know until we get there if that’s possible but we should certainly be aiming to be in the top six. If we’re not in the top 10, we should be going away from there disappointed which is a lot different to how we approached it last year.”
Rob’s best lap during yesterday’s test, which also doubled-up as the annual championship Media Day, came during the fourth and final session and was good enough to place him second quickest in that particular run – only 0.012 seconds away from the top of the timing screens.
Electing to focus on set-up work for the bulk of the day, rather than gunning for out-and-out quick lap times, the Loughborough University student was even more delighted with the pace he was able to deliver in his striking blue and white liveried Clio.
“We took the decision to spend most of the day prepping to make sure we’re strong for Brands and for the rest of the season”, he added, “We weren’t really chasing times like a lot of the other guys seemed to be, we didn’t use a lot of tyres.
“To do the times we did in the last session to go P2, a fraction off the guy who won both of the races at Silverstone last year, really is very encouraging. Our theoretical best from the last session was actually good enough to be quickest so, all in all, a great day.”
Rob will be back in action on Good Friday, 29th March, for pre-event practice ahead of the opening event of the 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup. Qualifying is scheduled for Saturday, 30th March, with both races following on Easter Sunday, 31st March, at 10.20 and 15.35 – the second of the two encounters will be screened live on ITV4 and ITV4 HD with online streaming at www.itv.com/btcc