Rob Smith at Snetterton

Nantwich MINI Challenge driver Rob Smith powered to a top four finish at Snetterton 300 Circuit in Norfolk in a weekend of mixed fortunes.

The MINI UK VIP Customer Team driver just missed out on silverware by 0.3 seconds in Saturday’s race before contact early in race two on Sunday ended a potential challenge for victory.

But the signs are promising for when Smith returns to action in rounds seven and eight at Silverstone over the weekend of June 9-10.

“It could easily have been a podium in race one and it really did look like being a good weekend overall,” said Smith.

“We had four new dampers, after the problems we had again at Rockingham, and after still bedding them in during race one I could feel the car was much better for race two.”

Smith was elevated onto the second row for race one after a strong qualifying round.

The 25-year-old maintained fourth place and saw off his rival into lap two before closing up on the podium contenders prior to a Safety Car period.

Smith stayed right on the tail of Jac Maybin, the lead quartet circulating within the same tenth of a second and with nothing to separate them.

Rob Smith challenges at Snetterton

He closed to within only 0.2 seconds of his rival into the final lap but couldn’t force him into a mistake and had to settle for fourth at the flag.

Smith started third on the grid on Sunday with his eyes firmly on rostrum placings, and he made a good start challenging for second position.

Unfortunately, part way around the opening lap, a collision with championship rival Luke Reade into Brundle resulted in heavy contact.

Smith’s front splitter and steering was damaged, and his car suffered two punctures, but he did manage to crawl back to the pits. he was forced to retire soon after.

“It’s frustrating, obviously, as I think I could’ve won that race,” he said.

“But we know we had the pace again and we go to Silverstone next where we had a couple of really good results last year.

“We have to look for two podiums there at least, so that’s what we’ll be aiming for.”

(pics courtesy of Mark Campbell/CarSceneUK)

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