Carrick driver Smiley gears up for new test

Carrick driver Chris Smiley will compete in this year's British Touring Car Championship. INLT 05-906-CON
Carrick driver Chris Smiley will compete in this year's British Touring Car Championship. INLT 05-906-CON

Carrick’s Chris Smiley was officially unveiled as a British Touring Car driver at the series’ he met the Press at Donnington Park.

Smiley, entering his rookie year, was delighted with his first experience of Media Day, telling the Carrick Times: “It was a big day for the whole series and a lot for me to take in and learn, but overall I felt that the big day went well!”

After a morning in front of the nation’s media, cameras and Press, Smiley was able to let his driving do the talking during the official test session.

He finished the session in 20th place, with a quickest time of 1.11.482 seconds, just half a second shy of team-mate, Jake Hill.

Despite some challenges, the 2013 JCW Mini Champion was optimistic about matching Hill by the time the season opener at Brands Hatch comes around. “He’s been in the series before and it will just take me a while to get 100 per cent confident in the car.”

Smiley can be confident after steering and brake issues limited the amount of running that could be carried out on a track which he had not driven in over three years.

“The car had a few small issues which hampered the amount of laps we could carry out but that will happen with a new combination of car, driver and engineers. I’m confident we’ll have it completely sorted for Brands!”

The season launch was a chance for the Carrick native to unveil the new stunning livery that he will carry on his London Concierge Kingdom Alliance TLC run Avensis, and the reaction to the car was “unbelievable”, according to Smiley.

Michael Epps was announced as the third driver of an ever expanding Team HARD, however he did not drive in the test due to the late completion of his deal.

Smiley will wrap up a busy week with testing at Brands Hatch, before the first round of the season takes place at the same circuit during the first weekend of April.

Smiley was announced by Team HARD as one half of their driver line-up in February, before testing at Snetterton, racking up 400 miles around the Norfolk circuit ahead of his debut season.

The 23-year-old was delighted to finally get behind the wheel of the Avensis. He had previously tested a British Touring car as a reward for winning the JCW Mini Championship in 2013 and says he immediately felt more at home in this season’s revised car.