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  • 3rd VXRacing driver announced for 2006


    www.tripleeight.co.uk
    Date: 06/02/2006
    VX RACING's 2006 driver line-up has been finalised after the bookies' favourite, Gavin Smith, signed for a second season with the 2005 champions.
    Smith will join Tom Chilton and Fabrizio Giovanardi to defend the team's Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship manufacturer's title.
    The Irishman is eager get back in the VXR Astra Sport Hatch after finishing the last round on the podium following a very steep learning curve in his debut year. "I'm going to build on last year's progress from the first race," said the 28-year-old. "This season is going to start off good for me at Brands Hatch where I had one of my strongest races last year. I know there's more to come."
    Smith measures his success against his fellow VX Racing drivers and knows he is facing a challenge this year with Chilton, the BTCC's prodigal son, and international touring car giant, Giovanardi, as bench marks.
    "Having two strong team-mates again this year is great," said Smith, who is unfazed by their pedigree. "Both of them are very successful drivers in their own fields but Yvan and Colin were no walk-overs and I took the competition to them more than once."
    VX Racing's team principal Ian Harrison says Smith was always his first choice to complete the team. "I think he's shown he has good speed in the last couple of events," said Harrison. "The consistency of keeping him in the car is good for him and for the team. He's shown he can get on the podium. Now I just need him to start doing it every weekend!"
    In 2005 Smith scored two podiums and was regularly in the top six at the end of the season. By then he was matching the lap times of former champion and team-mate Yvan Muller, just one year after he moved up from the SEAT Cupra Championship.
    "It's a different sort of racing," said Smith, who lives with his wife, Samantha, in Dublin. "I went from having one mechanic to having seven and it's just go-go-go from Saturday morning all the way through. It was a learning experience - a real eye opener.
    "VX Racing definitely is the best team in British Touring Cars. It's the place I wanted to be last year and this year is no different. The team know me and how I work and I know them. I'm going to hit the ground running."
    Background notes
    Giovanardi is one of the most successful touring car drivers of all time, with seven titles to his name including the Italian and European Touring Car Championships. Last year he was just four points behind Andy Priaulx going into the final World Touring Car Championship round but a suspension failure robbed him of the chance to become the inaugural champion.
    Chilton has made a big impression on the British Touring Car Championship since becoming the youngest driver to compete in 2002 at 17-years-old. He went on to become the youngest race-winner two years later. Last year he scored four BTCC victories, placing him fifth overall.
    The VX Racing Astra Sport Hatch was introduced in 2005. Prepared by Triple Eight Race Engineering the car is front wheel drive with a 2.0-litre 16-valve engine. Last year the car won eight races and scored a further 16 podiums.
    VX Racing has dominated the BTCC since 2001 when it won the Manufacturers' and Team Championships as well as the drivers' title with Jason Plato. Amazingly, the team managed to repeat this feat three times, twice with James Thompson and once with Yvan Muller. This record-breaking run, which saw VX Racing become the first team to achieve the triple-triple, came to an end in 2005 when Matt Neal won the Drivers' Championship and Team Halfords won the Team title. VX Racing maintained its hold on the manufacturer's title.
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