Double Podium for Smith at Silverstone
October 4, 2013 by P1 Digital
Airwaves Racing’s Árón Smith was aiming to return to the podium at Silverstone after a challenging weekend at Rockingham some two weeks earlier. A circuit that holds many fond memories for the young Dubliner would surely provide the ideal platform for some strong results as he made his podium debut here in 2012.
Saturday morning’s free practice sessions proved to be slightly challenging for Smith. Post session analysis indicated that overall race pace and setup balance was good, but a lack of straight-line speed on a track that is deemed to be a power circuit looked like racing at the front of the field could prove difficult.
As qualifying got underway, Smith was looking strong inside the top ten during the early stages of the session. However Árón’s lack of straight-line speed made it difficult for him to stay towards the sharp end of the field as the session progressed. At the end of the 30 minute session, Smith qualified his car 13th on the grid just behind teammate Mat Jackson.
Glorious sunny skies continued over the Northamptonshire venue on Sunday morning as race one was about to get under way. Starting from row seven, Smith got a good start to move ahead of Airwaves Racing teammate Mat Jackson. A lengthy safety car period followed before the racing got back underway on lap seven. Now in eighth position behind Andrew Jordan, Árón set about following the Honda driver further up the order. Quickly moving past Frank Wrathall, Smith was now up to seventh as he tried to close the gap to Jordan. However Árón’s front tyres started to fall away dropping him into the clutches of Adam Morgan. Now in eighth position, Smith had enough of an advantage over teammate Jackson to take his car to the chequered flag.
Starting from eighth position for Sunday afternoon’s race two, Árón had nominated this race before Saturday’s qualifying to run with the Dunlop Soft Tyre option. A good start off the line was quickly followed by an amazing save having being tagged by another car at the exit of Copse. Despite almost pointing in the wrong direction, Smith quickly got back underway before the safety car was deployed. When racing resumed on lap seven, Árón made the most of the restart to follow Mat Jackson into Maggots but quickly found himself slipping up the inside of Jackson and Adam Morgan to move into sixth. Clearly making the most of his soft tyres, Árón made a superb move on Matt Neal for fifth coming into Brooklands. Now with a podium very much on his radar, Smith quickly closed the gap to fourth placed Colin Turkington. A good run out of Woodcote allowed the pair to run side by side down the main straight and Árón completed the move coming out of Copse. With Smith’s tyres showing no sign of falling away, he quickly closed the gap to Sam Tordoff. The MG driver made his car as wide as possible for two laps before Smith made an Airwaves Racing Ford Focus sized gap into Becketts to move into third. Quickly pulling away from Tordoff, the lead pair of Plato and Jordan were now locked in battle and Smith was ready to capitalise on any dramas that may unfold. Despite some tussling, the pair stayed on track and Árón brought his Airwaves Racing Ford Focus across the line for a superb third place finish.
Buoyed by his performance in race two, Árón was confident going into race three. With the reverse grid draw playing into his hands, Smith started in fourth position for the final race of the weekend. Now running on the hard tyre amongst an array of drivers on the soft option, Árón realised he needed to try and get away as quickly as possible. A good getaway allowed him to remain in fourth at the end of the opening lap. However, contact just ahead between Tordoff and Neal promoted Árón to second behind Colin Turkington. Gordon Shedden on the soft tyres was now closing in fast and on the run down to Brooklands on lap eight, Shedden slipped past into second. Smith was now controlling his advantage in third until the safety car was deployed to clear some debris at Copse. Clearly showing that he is the master of the safety car restart, a brilliant move on Turkington into Becketts promoted the Airwaves driver back up to second. Confident that he had the pace to retain the position, Smith set some blistering lap times to extend his advantage for the remainder of the race to achieve his best finish of the 2013 season so far in second place in front of a jubilant Airwaves Racing team on the pit wall.
Speaking after a thrilling weekend, Árón added, “coming away from Silverstone with two podiums and an independents win is incredible for everyone in Airwaves Racing. This weekend was another one of those weekends where the car felt absolutely perfect, I’ll never get over the feeling of being able to challenge the championship protagonists as after all I did grow up idolising these guys! While race three was obviously a better result with second and the independents win, I think I’m most proud of what we achieved in race two, I felt like I got to show my true colours and work my way through the field after some first corner shenanigans.”