It was a weekend of what could have been for Chris Smiley despite the Carrick driver collecting his best result in the British Touring Car Championship to date at Croft.
In the wet conditions in both practice sessions, the 25-year-old was in fine form, posting the 11th and ninth fastest times and showing that he could get to grips with the tricky circuit from the off.
The former MINI Challenge Champion was looking for a similar result heading into qualifying, however an accident involving a dozen cars brought out the red flag after Luke Davenport’s Motorbase Ford dropped fluid on the wet circuit at Barcroft.
This sparked a chain reaction, with drivers helpless as they slid towards the barriers and other stationary competitors.
Davenport is in an induced coma after the crash, in a serious but stable condition after sustaining a damaged lung, broken leg, arm and pelvis.
Dublin driver Aron Taylor-Smith broke his left leg, while Jeff Smith broke several ribs and dislocated both shoulders.
Smiley, although running over some debris, safely made it back to the pits but the red flag before posting a representative lap time resigned him to the back of the grid.
Staying out of trouble throughout race one, Smiley crossed the line in 20th place despite it being the first time the BTC Norlin team had driven around Croft in dry conditions.
Race two was a tougher affair, with Smiley again making good progress through the order but he was muscled back to 20th by Jack Goff at the Complex with three laps remaining as several cars slipped past.
Smiley starred in race three, moving up to 15th early on, taking another position when Ant Whorton-Eales dropped out and he made sure he collected his best BTCC finish to date with a fine move on Senna Proctor on the penultimate lap to take a 13th place finish.
There is now a summer break before the next round at Snetterton at the end of July.