TWO runner-up finishes and a brace of fastest laps in rounds eight and nine of the MINI Challenge season at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit on Sunday enabled series front-runner Rob Smith to get his 2017 title bid firmly on track – the Crewe racer climbing to fourth in the standings.

Delivering searing pace, as he did last time out at Snetterton in Norfolk, the MINI UK VIP Customer Team driver only just missed out on pole position for race one by a fraction and went on to shadow namesake Brett Smith all the way to the flag in the opening contest.

In round nine later in the day, which was red flagged after a handful of laps and a result declared at the end of lap four, the Evergreen Tyres, GroupTyre and BMTR racer charged through from fifth place on the grid to again take second place and increase his tally of podiums for the year to four.

In each contest, he set the fastest lap to secure vital additional championship points – a best time of 2m22.767 seconds (92.30mph) in round eight and a quickest lap of 2m26.548 seconds (89.92mph) in the curtailed round nine.

“This weekend has gone how things should have from the start of the season for us, we know we have the pace so a double podium is another nice reward for the team and for all the hard work all of us have been putting in”, said an elated Smith.

“At the end of the day, a win would’ve been nice but second and fastest lap – as I got in both races – is the same number of points as a win.

“As I said at the start of the season, it’s all about consistency in this championship and we’re starting to get that momentum going now with three podiums on the bounce.

“For the rest of the year all of the circuits we visit are where I’ve been strong and had good results in the past.

“From where we were in the championship a few rounds back to where we are now, we’re back in the fight.”

Smith was justifiably confident going into the fourth race meeting of the campaign at Silverstone and he only just missed out on pole position for the opening encounter by a mere 0.030 seconds.

On lap six, Smith was all over the leader through Stowe and into Club but couldn’t quite find a way through and so tucked back in behind the No.39 car.

With absolutely nothing between them still, the Evergreen Tyres racer continued to run in the wheeltracks of his rival but had to ultimately settle for second place at the end of lap nine.