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Ollie Jackson, Sam Smelt confirmed at

The team has announced that British F4 racer Sam Smelt will move into the BTCC to partner Ollie Jackson for the 2018 season.

Smelt will be competing in only his second season of car competition having started last year racing in the VW Cup before a mid-season switch to the BTCC-supporting F4 series.

The 21-year-old tested the Audi S3 he will race during his debut season at Snetterton before Christmas, and becomes the second rookie confirmed for 2018 after Team HARD’s Bobby Thompson.

“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,” he 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.”

Jackson meanwhile returns for a third season at the wheel of the Audi having enjoyed a strong 2017 season, which included leading a race for the first time at Croft and a top ten finish in the Indepedents’ Championship standings.

The 33-year-old will now hope to challenge for the Jack Sears Trophy during the year ahead, with his focus also on regularly pushing for top ten finishes.

“I’m delighted to be returning with the team for a third season with the Audi and am really excited about what 2018 holds,” he said. “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.”