Wellingborough racer Smith had not seen Thruxton before a test day last Thursday when he was on track at the same time as some of the drivers he will be fighting for this year’s coveted Clio Cup crown.
A day of dry but then mainly wet running followed but he was encouraged by his performance around Britain’s most daunting circuit. He even spent some laps in close proximity to his father Jeff’s British Touring Car Honda.
“He might have a bit more oomph down the straights but in some of the corners – through the Complex – I felt I was actually starting to close on him. These Clio Cup cars have some seriously massive grip,” said Smith Jnr who is currently studying engineering at Swansea’s Metropolitan University.
He added: “I’ve never seen Thruxton before – I’ve not even been to watch dad race in touring cars – so it perhaps wasn’t ideal to be testing what is still a relatively new car to me on such a daunting circuit.
“I don’t really get scared in the car but I can see why some people might find Thruxton frightening. I did have the car run off the track onto the grass at Goodwood and Church on a few occasions and that does tend to catch your attention at those sorts of speeds!”
Among those on track were fellow newcomers Ashley Sutton and BMR which is expanding beyond its touring car team (of Jason Plato, Colin Turkington, Aron Smith and Warren Scott) to enter a car in the Clio Cup.
Smith continued: “It was good to get an idea of how the car behaves in dry and wet conditions and I seemed to be close to Ashley in his first time out in the BMR car – a few tenths off him in the wet and about six tenths in the dry on older tyres which we think was about right for the state of those tyres.
“Now it’s going to be about honing the car more to my liking in our remaining tests. The Clio Cup car you can change more parameters and play around more with the suspension so there is definitely more to come.”
RACE DATES: 2015 RENAULT UK CLIO CUP
Sat 4th/Sun 5th Apr Rounds 1 & 2 Brands Hatch Indy, Kent
Sat 18th/Sun 19th Apr Rounds 3 & 4 Donington Park, Leics
Sat 9th/Sun 10th May Rounds 5 & 6 Thruxton, Hants
Sat 6th/Sun 7th June Rounds 7 & 8 Oulton Park Island, Cheshire
Sat 27th/Sun 28th June Rounds 9 & 10 Croft, North Yorks
Sat 22nd/Sun 23rd Aug Rounds 11 & 12 Knockhill, Fife
Sat 5th/Sun 6th Sept Rounds 13 & 14 Rockingham, Northants
Sat 26th/Sun 27th Sept Rounds 15 & 16 Silverstone National, Northants
Sat 10th/Sun 11th Oct Rounds 17 & 18 Brands Hatch Grand Prix, Kent