Aaron Slight Q&A

Aaron Slight was one of the biggest stars in the immensely popular World Superbike Championship. Now he's quit two wheels for a berth in the independent Barwell Motorsport Vauxhall Astra squad in the BTCC. They're all learning together, but Slight has quietly been honing his skills and as the leader of the Independents' Cup he's fulfilling some of his goals. He's also turned in the odd stunning qualifying lap - like the one that put him third on the grid for Knockhill's feature race

Aaron Slight Q&A

"It's very important, especially this one, because I'm the best Vauxhall. Our car is a 2001 car and I'm qualifying faster than they were last year and I'm really happy about that. The chassis hasn't changed a lot, but they just have more power. At the last meeting at Snetterton I just struggled. If an Egg car pushed the front going into a corner he could come out and still keep in the slipstream. If I did it, I lost out and went back a position. They just seem to be able to make mistakes and get away with it, because they've got the power to pull out of it and we don't seem to have that. The other difference is the new rear [suspension] beam, we've got that, but they say it doesn't really make much difference, it's just more reliable. It's last year's car and it's good. It's a shame we don't have the same engines, but it all costs money."

"Yeah, very pleased. You can talk about here because I've qualified third, but last meeting at Snetterton my last lap was a 13.8s and I just analysed everything. I had a spin, lost 40 seconds, and finished 42 seconds behind, so I was on the pace, but the results just aren't showing it. Today with good qualifying everybody notices, but I think we have been moving ahead all the time. It's a team factor as well. The team's learning all the time, I'm learning all the time and if we can just eliminate those little problems, we'll just get better and better. On my driving we seem to work on areas. Like we get the race pace good and Mark [team boss Lemmer] will say: 'You're qualifying's shit, you're not getting the best out of the tyres.' Then I'll maybe spend three race meetings trying to be on it on the first lap with the new tyres. That worked out today - I've finally got the best out of new tyres. I'm learning all the time really. Things like in and out laps [for the mandatory pit stops]. At Snetterton in the feature race I had the second fastest out-lap and I'm really pleased about that - you can lose a load of time on cold tyres on an out-lap, so to be just 0.1sec off, I was wrapped."

"It is now, because I've been leading it for so long, but at the start, I wasn't really worried about it. I just wanted to be on the real rostrum. But as the season progressed and we saw the development on the other cars, it really does mean a lot, because we are running a different car than them and it would be really good to win that. For the last couple of races I have been thinking about it - keeping a good position in the Independents rather than having a go at a works car. But when you've qualified well I think you've just got to go for it at the start and see what happens. I've won the Independents Cup race a couple of times though and nobody's said anything about it - I qualify third and everyone's ranting and raving. So running at the front is probably better for me than winning the Independents' Cup, but that's really good for the team. I've maybe got to let my ego slide a bit, because they need to win that. They've stepped up a class and they're the best newcomers, so that's important and it's always in the back of my mind."

"No-one's really talking. It's hard at the moment with finances the way they are all over the world. And teams have got drivers who they're happy with. If new teams come in maybe something will happen. Or if I'm more marketable it might happen, but it's very hard to say and I'm talking to Barwell about what may happen as well. But it's not like the good old days when everyone was already planning next year at this stage - it's more about surviving this year at the moment I think. I'm weighing up some options in Australia as well, because I haven't been down-under for so long. So there are some decisions to make. At the end of the day I hope there is a drive at the end of it. I'm looking at some options in New Zealand, to get experience so I can drive in Australian V8 Supercars. That's what I'd like to do, if I can't get a drive over here. Ultimately the aim is the Australian Shell series or get a works touring car drive here and to do it as easy as possible, without too much financial commitment. I've been stressing for too many years over motorbike racing, now it's about having a good time. I hope that what I'm doing is good enough to convince people that I can drive and I think we're doing a good job, but if there's not a car to drive, there's not a car to drive. I've got a taste for it now though. Like in bike racing, when you're on the edge of success, you want to push through the barriers and get there."

"Yeah, I think so. I would be silly to go back. The offers I've been getting are fairly good, but they're not where I've been. It's 15 years of working to get where you've got and one day you can be classed as a no-hoper. That's just not the way I want to end it. You look around the paddock and a lot of guys who were at the top now are limping around - they didn't give up, they had to give up. And I've written the book and it was good to reflect on what you've done."

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