AmD Tuning with Cobra Exhausts have confirmed its 2018 British Touring Car Championship line-up by re-signing Ollie Jackson and bringing in new recruit Sam Smelt.

The West Thurrock-based squad, who will once again run a pair of Audi S3s in BTCC, is keen to build upon its best-ever campaign in the series with Jackson returning for a third consecutive year with the team and is joined by BTCC debutant Smelt.

The 21-year-old ended 2017 in the British Formula 4 series, with a best finish of eighth place, having started the season in the Volkswagen Racing Cup. Smelt graduated from karting just over 12 months ago and is eager to pick up as much experience as possible in his rookie tin top season in just his second year of car racing.

“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,” Smelt said. “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.”

Heading into his sixth consecutive full BTCC campaign, Jackson is targeting Independent class wins and the Jack Sears Trophy, which has been opened up to include any driver without a regular BTCC rostrum, and is confident of collecting his maiden rostrum in the series.

“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.

“The testing programme we have in place means we can do some proper pre-season running, and will allow us to be fully prepared for the start of the season at Brands. We’ll be able to hit the ground running and can then focus on maximising our performance on track.

“Having regularly challenged for points last year, the aim for me is to push for top ten finishes from the outset and I certainly feel that a podium could be possible if things fall our way. Independents’ class wins and the Jack Sears Trophy are certainly realistic, and I feel we have a good chance of coming away from 2018 with some silverware.”

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