News 2012: Aron Smith end of season interview Nov 2012
The 2012 British Touring Car Championship season was a mix of highs and lows for the Motorbase Performance team as the Kent based squad entered a new era as a constructor following the unveiling of its in-house built NGTC Ford Focus ST midway through the season.
In the fourth of a short series of interviews, we catch up with Redstone Racing Driver Aron Smith as he takes a look back at his impressive debut year with the team and discuss his plans and hopes for the 2013 season.
MP: On reflection, how do you feel about your performance and results during your debut in the 2012 BTCC season?
AS: "To be perfectly honest it was a bit rocky at the start wasn't it? But ye, once I settled into the team and the car I think everything started to pick up. From the mid way point at Snetterton I felt as though we turned a corner, the team got the car exactly where I wanted it and then it was a case of building up my confidence."
MP: What three words do you feel best describe your 2012 season?
AS: "Living the dream! Loved every second! Shame it's over! Shall I continue or do you get the jist?!"
AS: "I knew coming into this year that it would be a steep learning curve. There are a lot of seriously good drivers on the grid so I braced myself for the worst. During the pre season everyone kept asking me how I thought I would get on but I point blank refused to answer, half because I didn't know and the other half being that I just wanted to take everything as it came.
"The Clio Cup thought me a lot and was a great championship to be part of but to be honest I say I learnt more this season than I have since I started karting when I was 13! The biggest surprise was definitely the involvement of the team on a whole new level. In the past I never worked too closely with an engineer so that was a big change for me. You start racing when it's just you but over the years that has changed and now I feel like there's so much more to the picture. As I've said before the team do all the hard work and I'm just the one who makes the mistakes!"
MP: Would you say that your debut season could be described as a tale of two halves? After a shaky start, things really came together for you in the second half of the year. What drove this change do you think?
AS: "Most definitely, it felt like I had about 50 seasons in one! I think a combination of things can account for later part of my season. Firstly the team gave me the set up that we were chasing for the first half and that suited my driving style perfectly. Then I guess it was a case of the old saying that success breeds success. Once it clicked in my head everything became a lot easier and it felt like I no longer had to prove myself if you get me?! I could just relax and focus on going fast rather than what everyone else was thinking."
MP: You reluctantly, and many would say undeservedly, got dragged into a well-known driver's pit lane dramas and took quite a bit of a public lashing from him. What if any effect did this have on you both on and off the track? Were you surprised by his actions?
AS: "This definitely relates to the previous question of why I think the second half went so well. It's those types of moments that really fire you up, sink or swim and all that jazz. I still think it's hilarious and from time to time relive his interviews just for a laugh!
"It's a real shame because I grew up being in his fan club but I guess he doesn't want to be part of mine, doubt I'll be on the Christmas card list. And let's face it; if he doesn't hate you then you must be doing something wrong!"
MP: The majority of BTCC fans as well as many other drivers and most notably Motorbase Team Principal David Bartrum defended you after those remarks. Were you surprised by the level of support out there in what was only your first season?
AS: "Of course I was, especially when I read David Bartrum's blog. Everybody tip toes around him and for some as well respected as David to speak out about it made all the difference. As soon as I read the blog I felt so proud to be part of Redstone Racing and that's what separates us from every other team in the paddock.
"You know even the fact that people would stop me in the paddock and have a laugh with me about the whole situation meant the world to me, I came into this year as a very small fish in a big pond but it's safe to say that blew us onto everyone's radar!"
MP: What would you say were the stand out moments of the season for you....the goo, the bad and the ugly?
AS: "Pretty much the first half of the season stands out as being bad but I guess that's all part of being a rookie and learning the ropes. But the stand out moment had to of been Oulton Park. I absolutely love the track and to come away with 3 DNFs for all sorts of reasons was pretty soul destroying, that flight home was certainly one of the longest!
"Although my other stand out moment would have to be taking my first win and to be honest I would trade 29 DNFs for 1 win any day of the week! I knew getting my first win would mean a lot to me but to see how it affected everyone else is what really made it worthwhile, getting out of the car in parc ferme to hear the place erupt nearly brought a tear to my eye. Don't worry I held it together though!
"My so called "ugly" moment would have to of been something that happened on my first or second test day with the team. As you can imagine I was still rather nervous and trying my best to fit in, the test day had gone really well until the very last run. As I came into the garage I somehow managed to hit the garage wall! Since then it has been a running joke with everyone and mentioned at pretty much any occasion, so simply put that wasn't my finest moment!"
MP: What's on your list for Santa this year?
AS: "An NGTC Ford Focus, obviously!"
MP: What can we expect to see from Aron Smith in 2013?
AS: "Hopefully more of the same from the second half of the season. If I can pick up from where I left off then it'll be happy days! I'll go out and give it socks all next year, once I put on a bit of a show and put a smile on everyone's face at Redstone Racing I'll be happy!"