Aron Smith has praised a 'phenomenal' Team BMR effort after qualifying his Volkswagen CC onto the front row of the BTCC season opener at Brands Hatch.

Not only did Smith only narrowly miss out on snatching pole-position away from the returning Andy Priaulx, the Irishman also out-qualified his two illustrious BMR team mates Jason Plato and Colin Turkington on the first time of asking.

Over the pre-season period, Smith has been somewhat of the forgotten man at Team BMR after Plato and Turkington stole the limelight when signing for the improving BTCC squad over the winter.

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The 25-year old, however, said preparing for the 2015 season under the radar has suited him just fine. Smith already has a year's worth of knowledge with the Volkswagen CC, which took him to two impressive victories last season.

"You know this was the session that we were all on equal weight, it's all fair - so it's just nice to have come out on top. I'm really proud of myself because I don't think many expected it," Smith told

"They've had all the headlines during the past few-weeks and rightly so because they deserve after the job they did last year. I've just stayed beneath the radar, keep yourself to yourself and you'll do the job so I'm delighted.

"Up until the red flag I hadn't really been able to post a good lap because I just kept getting blocked. So I came in, regrouped, had a chat to my engineer - also had a pep talk with myself - and then went out and did the lap. Andy did a good job. I'm just glad to be on par with the people around me on the grid."

Catching pole-man Priaulx, though, will be a tall order Smith concedes, as he believes the outcome of the race will hinge heavily on the start of the race.

Smith hopes having Plato and Turkington behind him will give the CC's a better chance of usurping the West Surrey Racing BMW from the top spot. Playing to the BMR advantage, the Volkswagen's have been blindingly quick in all of the speed traps throughout the weekend.

"I'll try my best. We'll see how well the championship has done their maths over the RWD start equalisation. If they've done a good job we'll have a good chance, if not; Andy will be up the road," the BMR driver continued.

"At least we have strength in numbers with the BMR cars being second, third and fourth so we're in pretty strong shape. I'm sure they won't mind being rear gunners. We want a team result. Our qualifying performance is already a phenomenal effort."