Run­ners and rid­ers who are ready to step up

Motor Sport News - - Btcc Half Term Report - KEY Pho­tos: Jakob Ebrey

Out­side of the top run­ners, the most im­pres­sive has been Team BKR and specif­i­cally Aron Smith.

The Ir­ish­man joined the new­for-2016 squad, which only got the green light on its plans to run the older Gprm-spec ex-team BMR VW CCS on the very cusp of the me­dia day.

Smith grabbed two podi­ums at the start of the sea­son when the other teams, grap­pling with new Rml-spec kits, were get­ting up to speed. The form has dipped slightly since, but Smith is there ready to pick up the pieces should the top run­ners slip. Team-mate Mark Howard is strug­gling.

Rob Austin switched to fron­twheel drive this sea­son with the Handy Motorsport Toy­ota Aven­sis and took a while to get to grips with it even though he had strong pace in test­ing. It is be­gin­ning to click, with strong per­for­mances at Thrux­ton and Croft, but there is a lot more to come. Both he and engi­neer Matt Tay­lor are learn­ing their way.

Jeff Smith’s Eurotech Rac­ing team was ready to steal a march with its TOCA Btcc-en­gined Civics, and both the team owner and Martin Dep­per have been able to break into the top 10. But new­comer Dan Lloyd, who joined the team at Oul­ton, has a brace of front rows to the team’s credit al­ready. Once he has the hang of the real cut-and-thrust of the BTCC, he will be­come a win­ner.

Team Hard took on an am­bi­tious pro­gramme with three cars this sea­son.

The rapid Jake Hill’s maiden full sea­son at the wheel of the Toy­ota Aven­sis has been full of prom­ise, with a sixth place at Croft last time out.

Michael Epps, in the sis­ter car, has shown that he has the abil­ity to be a star with a par­tic­u­larly bat­tling per­for­mance at Thrux­ton, and has been un­lucky not to land a big re­sult.

The third car, in the hands of Chris Smi­ley, has been thwarted by un­re­li­a­bil­ity.

Like his for­mer team-mate Austin, Hunter Ab­bott has swapped to front-wheel drive with the Power Maxed Rac­ing Chevro­let Cruze. Top 10 qual­i­fy­ing pace was ru­ined at Croft with an open­ing lap shunt, but the po­ten­tial is there. Team­mate Kelvin Fletcher clearly needs more mileage at this level.

Dan Welch’s Pro­ton Per­sona, with a be­spoke en­gine, had started from a re­versed-grid pole at Thrux­ton. That should have brought re­wards but for a sus­pen­sion fail­ure.

Matt Simp­son is learn­ing his craft in the Speed­works-run Honda Civic and has shown flashes of top 10 form, while Alex Martin’s Ford Fo­cus is still vig­or­ously driven with­out land­ing any real re­sults.

Ol­lie Jack­son will be wait­ing for tracks bet­ter suited to the AMD Tun­ing Audi S3, while Ste­wart Lines has bit­ten off a lot run­ning his Ford Fo­cus with his Max­i­mum Motorsport team. It seems like it is too much.

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