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Huff BTCC return steps up with Toyota test

The 43-year-old took the wheel of one of Speedworks Motorsports’ Corolla GR Sports at a wet Croft for a run-out, before the flyaway trio of TCR World Tour events at Sydney Motorsport Park, Mount Panorama and Macau. 

Huff, who is just one point adrift of the TCR World Tour lead after his win in Sydney last weekend, filled in at the Team Hard Cupra BTCC squad in a one-off at Knockhill in August. 

He made no bones that he is targeting a full-time BTCC return in 2024, for the first time since his rookie tin-top season with the works SEAT squad in 2004, and was in evidence in the paddock at the final two rounds at Silverstone and Brands Hatch. 

“He’s been in contact all year with the team, and I sat down with him at Brands to chat about options for 2024,” Speedworks head of racing Danny Buxton told Autosport. 

“He’s keen to be back in the series, and we needed something testing on our development plan, so it was a good opportunity for him to sample the car and for us to get some feedback. 

“It was wet, but it was good to have another eye on the car.” 

But Buxton added that the team’s priority is its 2023 trio of drivers: Rory Butcher, Ricky Collard and George Gamble. 

Ricky Collard, Toyota GAZOO Racing UK Toyota Corolla GR Sport (Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images)

“Whilst our focus is always to assess the situation with our own three drivers first, it’s the nature of the beast to see what else is potentially on the horizon,” he said. 

“Rob’s talented, he’s got a great CV, and he’d be a great fit for any BTCC team.” 

Taylor-Smith stays at PMR

Irish veteran Aron Taylor-Smith is to remain at Power Maxed Racing for a second season as he seeks to build on his tally of four BTCC race wins. 

Taylor-Smith was rejuvenated in PMR’s Vauxhall Astra in 2023, finishing 11th in the points and coming within one lap of victory at Silverstone. 

That second place came one round on from another runner-up spot at Donington Park – his first in the series for seven years. 

“It sounds terribly cliche, but I really do feel like I’ve found a home within the team,” said Taylor-Smith.  

“I’ve been in the paddock for 10 years now, and I’ve spent much of that feeling like I was looking for a long-term home. I’ve found that now.

Árón Taylor-Smith, CarStore Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra (Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images)

“Every successful driver-team combination on the BTCC grid has a high level of consistency to it; whether that’s drivers with engineers, staying in the same car, building a team around you.  

“Overnight success doesn’t happen here, so if you want to be competitive, you need to find somewhere to create that environment around you.

“We’ve had such an amazing year and achieved almost every major objective we set ourselves. But – and this is the key bit – we did that with minimal testing, and if you look at our results, it’s quite clear it took me a few rounds to naturally ‘bed in’ and get to grips with the car, and where we needed to develop the package.

“So, I’m incredibly optimistic about what we can achieve with an extra four months versus last season to prepare.  

“People talk about this being one of the oldest cars on the grid, but I’ve been around a bit and I can say confidently – it still has room to grow.”

Team boss Adam Weaver added: “I can’t wait to see what Aron and the team can achieve with a proper winter to test and work through the car’s weaknesses. This season was fantastic, but it only scratched the surface of what is possible.”

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