Chris Smiley experienced a difficult opening weekend of his rookie British Touring Car season at the famous Brands Hatch Indy circuit.
Smiley, fresh from testing at Brands the previous weekend, was in a buoyant mood heading into his first race weekend as a BTCC driver, however, a combination of technical gremlins and contact with other cars left Smiley feeling that there was more to come, with the Carrick man declaring, “It was a very hectic and unlucky day with two first lap incidents at Druids!”
The former Mini champion was delighted after recording a 24th place finish in his debut race event, making up three places from his qualifying position the previous day. The first lap contact at Druids meant that he was pushed down the order, but he used to talent to remain out of trouble for the rest of the race with a race finish the priority.
The Race Two grid order was decided by a driver’s finishing position in the previous race, making the race a difficult affair for Smiley. He was once again punted off by the circuit at Druids bend on the opening lap of the race, with the contact placing Smiley on the back foot. Overtaking is notoriously difficult on the Indy circuit, meaning it was difficult for the Avensis driver to make significant progress throughout the race.
Smiley’s last chance for points came in the third and final race of the day; however a technical problem meant that his progress during the race was fruitless despite rising up to 26th place before his weekend was ended prematurely.
Despite the difficulties, Smiley is looking forward to the next race meeting at Donnington Park, where the 23 year old should be confident of more progress in his TLC run Toyota Avensis. Smiley leaves Brands Hatch placed 25th in the drivers’ championship, and with another nine rounds and 27 races to go, it is all to play for.