Carrick driver Chris Smiley ready to move up a gear at British Touring Car Championship

Chris Smiley is hoping to step it up a gear as the British Touring Car Championship returns this weekend.
Chris Smiley is hoping to step it up a gear as the British Touring Car Championship returns this weekend.

BTC Norlin Racing’s Chris Smiley hopes to get back on track as he prepares to take on the fifth leg of the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) this weekend in Yorkshire.

Carrickfergus man Smiley, alongside teammate Dave Newsham, will take part in one of the most pivotal rounds of the BTCC at Croft Circuit. Known for being a challenging and technical course, it is regarded as the toughest all-round test on the BTCC’s calendar.

BTC Norlin Racing team mates Chris Smiley & Dave Newsham in their Chevrolet Cruze touring cars.

BTC Norlin Racing team mates Chris Smiley & Dave Newsham in their Chevrolet Cruze touring cars.

Putting aside the disappointing result of his last race at Cheshire’s Oulton Park three weeks ago, Smiley is ready to continue climbing in the BTCC’s drivers’ standings.

The Northern Irishman – a former Mini Challenge champion – currently lies 15th in the independent drivers’ standings.

Smiley noted his last outing “could have gone better” as a fuel pressure issue forced him to work from the back of the grid, but remained upbeat about what lay ahead. He said: “I’m really looking forward to taking on Croft. I’m a personal fan – it was the first ever circuit where I secured a pole position, so I’m hoping it’s as kind to me again.

“With it being such a tough course, teams will want to build points over rivals before the mid-summer break, so Croft is an important race for Dave and myself.”

Newsham reiterates his teammate’s point, saying: “It’s an exciting course and I know that if we drive as well as we did in the season’s first couple of fixtures, we’ll be right up there in the mix.” Newsham previously finished fourth at Donnington Park.

He believes the team can only build on their current position: “There is no reason why we shouldn’t be expecting podiums and strong results from the reversed-grid races over the latter part of the season.”

The duo will race in their Chevrolet Cruze machines as they continue push for top 10 finishes the rest of the racing season. Team Owner, Stephen Symington, commented: “We are continuing to learn and develop the cars at each round, and hope that Croft provides us with more opportunities to show what we can do.”

The race comes as BTC Norlin Racing announced a new corporate sponsor. Central Fusion, who helped in delivering the recent One Love Manchester benefit concert hosted by Ariana Grande, provides event services at large scale live events and will support the Belfast-owned team for the rest of the season.