AMD Tuning have confirmed that Ollie Jackson and Sam Smelt will pilot the teams Audi S3s in the 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
Heading into the new campaign looking to build on the progress that saw them achieve their highest points tally in the series last year, the Independent outfit are aiming high as they seek to move further up the grid.
Blending experience with youth, Jackson returns for his third successive season with Shaun Hollamby’s squad whilst Smelt will make his BTCC debut, graduating from the British F4 Championship.
Retaining the support of lead sponsor Cobra Exhausts and making improvements to the car over the winter, AMD Tuning are also set to embark on pre-season testing programme which is set to start in February – all in a bid to make sure they hit the ground running at the season-opener.
“We’re pleased to confirm Ollie and Sam as our drivers for 2018, and are confident that both can enjoy a successful year on track,” team principal Hollamby said.
“In Ollie’s case, he has taken huge strides forwards since he rejoined us back in 2016, particularly last year which was arguably his strongest season in the BTCC. Our hope for 2018 is to see him regularly challenge towards the top ten and push for the Jack Sears Trophy title.
“Sam faces a steep learning curve as a rookie driver, but he did a solid job when he tested the car in tricky conditions back in November. He is a youngster with a lot of potential, and there is no reason why he can’t look to challenge for points as the season goes on.
“We’re also delighted to have retained the support of Cobra Exhausts and a number of our other loyal sponsors for the year ahead. It has allowed us to work on some new developments for the Audi and also to put in place a full testing programme that means we go into 2018 in better shape than ever before.”
Having led the line for the team in 2017, taking a best finish of ninth at Croft, Jackson believes there is more to come from the team.
He explained: “I’m delighted to be returning with the team for a third season with the Audi and am really excited about what 2018 holds. We made a lot of progress last year but I don’t feel the job is finished yet, and I’d like to think that we can continue to build on everything we learned in 2017.
In what will be just his second year in car racing, Smelt is meanwhile looking to gain as much experience as possible on what is set to be another ultra-competitive grid.
“I really enjoyed the chance to sample the Audi when I tested back in November and came away from the day having ticked all the boxes I felt I needed to tick,” the 21-year-old stated.
“Given how well it went with the team, I saw a good chance to make the move up the BTCC and am delighted that we’ve been able to agree a deal.
“I’m really excited about the fact that I’m going to be competing in the series this season, but I’m also aware that the step up is a big one in my second year of car racing.
“I think this will be a learning year for me, particularly in the first half of the season, and I’ll have to take it race-by-race and see how I get on. I’m expecting it to be tough at the start, but I’d like to think that as the year goes on, I’ll be able to start pushing for points finishes and fighting my way further up the field.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Jakob Ebrey Photography