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Global Robots Blog #1

Aron Smith

Title: Game on for BTCC 2021!

Hello everyone! As you probably saw last week, I have joined the Global Robots Motorsport family and we’re taking on the BTCC in 2021. I will be doing a mini blog series over the course of the season, to keep you guys updated and fill you in on the bits that you don’t normally get to see or read about. With that in mind, I thought that I would give you a bit of an insight into what has led to my return to the BTCC.

I first raced in the championship in 2012 with Motorbase Performance and instantly fell in love with the championship. It’s a mental game as much as anything and in my debut season I genuinely felt more like a fighter pilot than racing driver! I grew up watching touring cars and even got to see my older brother race for two seasons. I joke by saying that watching my older brother race is what made me want to do it.. Obviously because I wanted to be the best in the fam Since making my debut it has been a long road with wins & podiums but at the end of the 2017 season I decided it was time for a change to go and focus on some GT racing. I got the opportunity to race the Bentley GT3 around Europe and then the Ford Mustang GT4 in British GT but being entirely honest, they didn’t compare to the BTCC. I always found myself checking the results or watching the BTCC as my heart was clearly still in the championship. It felt as though I was ticking a box of going racing as opposed to loving what I was doing. So, towards the end of 2020 I went into full on stalker mode and spoke to every team up and down the BTCC grid.

I think that’s what is great about the BTCC – yes on race day you would drive over your own mother to beat each other but there is a unique sense of respect amongst all the teams & drivers as everyone knows how hard of a job it is to even secure a drive on the grid. From September to December I spoke to a new team nearly each week, some I loved & would’ve jumped at the chance to be with and some I got off the phone and joked to my wife that I would prefer to sit at home than go with them. I won’t mention names but you would be surprised at how they all stack up in terms of what I call ‘grit’ when wanting to win. As a driver you always want to give yourself the best possible chance to win and unless the team is as hungry as I am then there is no point. I would have probably described the month of November as being my moody teenager phase, nothing was aligning from a performance to a sponsor perspective and I imagine that I was horrific to live with at that point – my wife had someone who would get off the phone and think the world has ended on numerous occasions. I kept thinking to myself ‘I just want someone to take a chance’ and put a deal together that has the potential to win as opposed to resting on what they have achieved in previous years. I really do think that if you are standing still in the BTCC then you are effectively going backwards!

That’s when I spoke to both Warren Scott, who played a major role in securing my drive, and Tony Gilham from TeamHARD. Tony has been around the paddock for years but probably didn’t have the equipment that he deserved and needed to win but then came the new car build for 2021. It took a few weeks of back & forth between Warren, Tony & I but eventually we started to converge on putting a program together for myself to return to the BTCC. Before going any further, I really do want to thank both of these for making this happen. I really feel as though I am getting my second chance to live out my dream but I am going back older, wiser, more mature and knowing exactly what it takes to win. When I look back on 2012 I feel as though I was still all over the place but I would now like to think that I am a force to be reckoned with upon my return.. not some young kid who looks like a deer caught in the headlights! What TeamHARD are creating is nothing short of amazing, they are going to be a force to be reckoned with over the next few years within British motorsport – not only in the BTCC.

A little bit more about the brand new car build…

When I first heard about the work that TeamHARD were doing and the personnel that were involved I almost found it hard to believe. I have seen numerous new car builds being put together over the years and know exactly where teams usually cut corners but there isn’t a single ounce of that at TeamHARD. They are going above and beyond like nothing I have ever seen and their hunger to win is easily as strong as mine! I feel as though 2021 is the first season for the team where they can roll out at the first race all guns blazing and expect to challenge for wins.. getting to be a part of that will be something special. What I really love about the team are the people – they are all out to prove to the paddock that we can win as for too many years they were written off. The Cupra Leon will be newest car on the grid in 2021, which does mean it is the most evolved, from the shell design to the engine install. All those little bits make a difference when it comes to the BTCC as 0.1 can be the difference from pole to scrapping inside the top ten! I have been blown away by the attention to detail from Jamie Warren (our team manager) and really all of the staff. I do feel bad mentioning certain names as everyone is playing a role in this development but he is going above and beyond. I have been with a lot of teams over the years, from clios to touring cars & GTs and this is arguably the most that I have been impressed by how they are going about this project. They are constantly in contact with updates as to how the build is going and I’ll throw in the odd photo at the end so you can see for yourself. Effectively a road car is delivered to the workshop and after approximately 1,000 hours a BTCC car is born (hopefully a championship challenger in this case.) I reckon the build will be finished in about three to four weeks and then the pre season testing program will kick off.

Going in to 2021 it’s hard not to have expectations of this being my best chance yet in the BTCC. For me, all I want to do is put on a show & give everyone the results that they deserve – from the guys who built this project up from the ground to those who are supporting me this season. And that’s where Global Robots comes in. I spoke with Andy during the off-season about potentially bringing GR into the BTCC for the very first time and instantly there was a spark. I absolutely love getting the opportunity to work with partners who are actively interested in a motorsport program and that sings through when you speak to Andy. The work and expertise that GR carry out on a daily basis is obviously in a different field to the BTCC but there is that synergy of operating at the very top of your industry. I’m looking forward to life after lockdown and getting to see inside the HQ but also, equally as looking forward to inviting everyone down to a race… hopefully I will give you something to cheer about! These blogs will keep on coming throughout the season and the next time you hear from me it will be after our first few weeks of testing. Stay safe everyone 

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