By Mick Palmer
Another piece of the BTCC puzzle for 2023 has fallen into place as Power Maxed Racing has announced that Árón Taylor-Smith will join rookie Andrew Watson for 2023 at the team.
Four time BTCC winner Taylor-Smith returned to the championship in 2021 after a three year hiatus as a Team HARD driver, as part of the squad who introduced the Cupra Leon campaigned by the outfit, initially with a three-year agreement.
Speaking to Motor Racing UK last year about his tenure he said: “You need, in my opinion, if you’re going to get a car to be capable of challenging for the championship, three years. The first year development, second year refinement and then the third year you can push on.”
With HARD having announced four drivers for the four cars in their workshop there was a rumour that a fifth car under an external TBL could have been built which would be filled by Taylor-Smith, which has so far not materialised.
Taylor-Smith stated: “This is a dream come true for me. The dream after this is to win another race in the BTCC and the dream after that is to fight for a championship.” It might be a haughty claim with the ageing Vauxhall Astra being at best a mid-grid car over the last couple of seasons, but the experience that he brings could make a difference.
“I’ve watched what Adam (Weaver, Power Maxed Team Boss) and his team have put together over the years and have seen what their car is capable of on the track; I know their desire matches mine when it comes to success,” he continued. We’ve tried to get a deal done in the past and it’s never quite come together, so I am beyond happy that it has this year. Visiting the workshop and seeing what they have done over the winter, I have never been more confident going into a season.”
Weaver stated that: “Árón is just a great guy, his enthusiasm is contagious and more of that in a team can never be a bad thing. I know Árón and Andrew will get on brilliantly and I’m really looking forward to being a part of this team. It’s everything we have been working towards – I’ve never been this excited about a BTCC campaign.”
The announcement, with seven weeks to the first green light of the year, reduces opportunities further for those left in the cold. The 2022 Power Maxed line up of Michael Crees and Ash Hand now only have eight opportunities open to join the BTCC grid, with at least three of them looking likely to have been claimed by expected incumbents. Crees stated on social media the evening prior to the Taylor-Smith announcement that he still had not found a drive for 2023, and that other options could be on the table.