Tom Smith: I Have Managed To Outperform My Wildest Expectations in 2020
At the beginning of 2020, Tom Smith, wasn't even sure, if he would be on the grid this season. The decision to come out and race though, was a very good one and he finds himself in an unexpected championship fight this Sunday at the 5 Club #DoningtonDecider. Winning the championship would crown the season, which has seen him outperform his wildest expectations.
Tom finds himself just five points behind championship leader and BS Motorsport team mate, Ben Hancy. Tom has far outweighed his expectations for the season to date, " My goal was to try and finish in the top six this year, so to be in 'the hunt' going into the final round is fantastic. With such a strong field, I was hoping to run inside the top 6-8 and have managed to outperform my wildest expectations. In all honesty, due to a number of factors, I wasn't anticipating being on the grid this season, so to have the opportunity to compete, I am eternally grateful to a select few people."
Tom's title challenge was firmly put down on the table, at the last meeting at Mallory Park in October. Tom came away with two wins and a second place finish. Tom was able to combat what he sees as his achilles heel and was able to put together a fantastic day of results, " To be honest and brutal about it, my biggest issue and failing as a driver, is my ability to lap at the speed required to win, rather than a lack of race craft or the ability to work under pressure. I had the pace at Mallory and except for Steve Foden rudely getting in the way and pipping me to race two, I made the most of it."
This year's condensed season has seen some fantastic racing, one of Tom's main highlights of the season, wasn't one of his many successes this season but a fight back from adversity, " I'd call the whole season a highlight, even driving through the field from 40th to 14th, in the reverse grid race at Snetterton, following a first lap incident. A lot of firsts have come this year; my first pole position, my first outright podium, my first race win."
With the season ending at the latest date in 5 Club history, on the 13th of December, there could be new challenges and different conditions to what the drivers are normally used to. Tom is expecting it to be rather damp and greasy for the two races on Sunday. Going into the final meeting, Tom is fully aware that with just five points separating him from the championship, that the title fight is very much on, " five points is a small gap with 202 points on offer. Mazda racing is tight and extremely close (one of the reasons I love it so much) I'm sure the championship will be decided on very small margins."
Tom's BS Motorsport team manager, Ben Short, is back out in action for the final meeting and Tom paid tribute to all of the hard work that Ben and his team have put in to help Tom be in a title winning position, " I would like to extend a huge thanks to the team. I would not be on the grid this year if it wasn't for Ben Short. Ben and his tight knit family, have really made me and the old man (Big A), feel very at home. The team haven't put a foot wrong all year, and there is full commitment in every circumstance from Will, Hannah and Simon, the engineers. The car that I drive, is a rental car, so really my ability to compete and have the equipment underneath me that I need is completely down to BS Motorsport. I can honestly say that my results, have been down in huge part to the team providing me great equipment and having the confidence to inspire me to succeed."
Along with the car preparation side of BS Motorsport, Tom has revelled in the atmosphere at the team and the positivity surrounding the awning, " There has been a fantastic atmosphere in the awning this season. The atmosphere has helped the youngsters, Tom Holland, Kian and George as well. It also helps that the team are great at putting on a BBQ!"
Going into the final meeting, Tom knows that he is up against a high calibre of drivers for the championship, " It's really all to play for, Ben Hancy, Steve Foden, Jason Greatrex and myself. I feel that i'm in illustrious company. Ben is the current and outgoing champion, Jason has been involved and winning Mazda races at all levels for a decade, Steve is super fast and despite what his father says, I am sure he will come out all guns blazing to try and win the title."
Tom has worked with team mate Ben Hancy all season and has some special praise for the reigning champion, " Ben has only been too willing to share data with me and I genuinely think this gives us both an advantage. Ben is sometimes in my opinion underestimated as a driver, in the past two seasons he has improved immensely. I have been on track with some of the strongest names in Mazda racing and I would say Ben is as fast as anyone and on his day is metronomically consistent."
Tom has had just over two months to prepare for the final showdown and he is ready to go on Sunday, " I'm there to perform to the best of my ability and to try to win. I think I race with some intelligence and a brain. I know when to give up a corner or when to follow and use the tow. there is the added pressure for Ben, Steve, Jason and I. Really we aren’t racing anyone but ourselves, but there is a 38 car field and I am approaching the weekend just like any other. In essence I may not be seen as an aggressive driver, I don't think I will be changing my mentality this weekend; go out and win!