Updated: Sep 5, 2020
The sixth part of my series looking at every driver from the 2002 BTCC season opener.
For my next feature I am going to look at every driver who started my first ever British Touring Car Championship race and what they have achieved in their careers, both before and after.
As some of you may know, my first BTCC race was on the 30th March 2002 when my Dad and I went to the “Super Sunday” event at Brands Hatch, in which the touring cars were joined by the British GT championship as well as Formula 3.
I was only seven when I attended and immediately fell in love with touring cars, a passion which has failed to die down yet nearly eighteen years later!
The order I will be looking at the drivers will be the finishing positions of that race.
The next driver I am going to look at is the BTCC driver who finished sixth in the results, ex World Superbike rider Aaron Slight.
Before racing in the BTCC, Slight was a hugely successful rider, competing in the WSB from full time from 1992 through to 2000. Slight made his debut however in 1988 where he finished the two races seventh and fourteenth.
As soon as Slight became full time, he was a threat, winning the first race of the 1992 season for Team Moving Kawasaki. Although it was his only race victory of the season, Slight continued to impress, finishing the season sixth.
1993 much more successful for the New Zealander as he turned top ten finishes into regular top fives, winning once and finishing on the podium a further nine times. Slight ended the season third, a position he would match for the following two seasons in 1994 and 1995 as he switched to Honda.
Slight went one better in 1996 as he finished the season second behind Australian Troy Corser, in which he achieved his joint highest points tally of 347 points, a sum he matched in 1998 when he again finished second.
1997 saw Slight finish third once more on 343 points winning three times. The closest he came to winning the World Superbike Championship was in 1998 when he finished second by only four and a half points behind champion Carl Fogarty.
His final season competing on two wheels was the turn of the millennium where he finished a distant eighth, having missed the first three rounds of the season.
Sadly, this was caused by blood leak from an inherent problem since birth which ended his career on bikes just as he was reaching his full potential.
Following his career on two wheels, Slight switched to four, making his debut in the BTCC in 2001 driving a factory Peugeot for Vic Lee Racing, partnering regular drivers Dan Eaves and Steve Soper. Slight only competing in one weekend of the season, the first trip to Donington Park where he finished seventh in his opening race, before retiring from the second.
2001 also saw Slight try ASCAR, Europe’s answer to NASCAR, taking a third place in his only outing in the series that year. Sadly, a deal never materialised for Slight and he returned to the BTCC in 2002 with Barwell Motorsport, having got a taste for the action a year earlier.
Slight partnered rookie teammate Tom Chilton in a pair of 2001 specification Vauxhall Astra Coupés which were used by the factory team the year earlier. The pair were solid throughout the season, with Slight battling for the Independents Championship all season with ex-teammate Eaves and Tim Harvey.
Going into the season finale at Donington Park, Slight was winning the Independents Championship however he was overhauled by ex-teammate Eaves as Slight was unable to finish either race, a bitter disappointment after coming so close. He finished the season on 32 points and thirteenth in the overall standings with a best result of sixth at Oulton Park.
This would prove to be Slight’s last full season of motorsport before taking a step back from competition. 2003 saw Aaron compete for the final time as he raced in Porsche’s on occasion, competing at Silverstone in the Masters Supercup before returning to New Zealand in 2004.
After his stepping away from full time driving, Slight switched to the screen as he presented The AA Torque Show for two series between 2005 and 2007, a light humoured car show.
As well as his TV show, Aaron also became an ambassador for Honda in New Zealand, who he had so much success with throughout his World Superbike career. Since then, Aaron has lived the quiet life in New Zealand, working for his family business, running a hardware store in his hometown as well as developing other commercial businesses around his hometown.
It is the quiet life that Slight now enjoys, having lived the life of a racing glamour in Monaco during his career, spanning fifteen years on both two and four wheels. Despite never winning the World Superbike championship, Aaron maintains he has no regrets in a career which saw him finish in the top three for six consecutive seasons.
From a selfish point of view, it would have been interesting to see him continue in the BTCC for longer, to see if he could have challenged higher up the order the more he got used to the cars, however it is refreshing to hear of a driver who is content with their career and enjoying life to the full!