Formula Ford 1600 racer Rob Smith, who is eyeing a potential move into the AirAsia Renault Clio Cup UK championship for 2012, will make his saloon car testing debut at Oulton Park today, Tuesday, 14th February, with multiple title winning team Total Control Racing.

Telford-based Smith, whose father Paul was a works Alfa Romeo driver in the British Touring Car Championship in the 1980s and a class winner at the Le Mans 24 Hours on two occasions, has only been competing in cars for 18 months at club level but has shown impressive talent over that time.

Finishing fourth overall in North West Formula Ford 1600 last year, the 19-year-old also claimed an 11th place result in the Kent-engined class of the 2011 Formula Ford Festival and was 17th in the prestigious Walter Hayes Trophy.

With the increasing costs of single-seater competition proving ever more prohibitive for aspiring drivers, Shropshire racer Smith is sensibly looking at saloon cars – and in particular the Clio Cup – as the optimum career path.

“Clio Cup is a good, competitive championship and we’re 100 per cent behind trying to secure a deal for this season”, he commented, “This test will be my first time out in a saloon car so I’m really looking forward to it, especially with a team as experienced and successful as TCR.

“It’s so difficult to raise any kind of budget to go racing at the moment, especially in single-seaters, so something like Clio Cup is more achievable and that’s where we have to look. Hopefully we can have a strong test which will help us try and raise the sponsorship we need.”

Lee Brookes, team principal of Wednesbury-based TCR, added: “We’re delighted Rob’s making his saloon car test debut with us and we’re looking forward to working with him. Clio Cup is the perfect championship to try and begin a career in saloons and we’re sure, from what we’ve seen of Rob’s ability in Formula Ford, he’ll have a good run and show plenty of promise.”

AirAsia Renault Clio Cup UK will be contested over 16 rounds this season, eight race meetings in total, and will visit the country’s premier circuits in its regular slot on the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship package. The season is scheduled to commence on 31st March/1st April at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent.