Season-best for Smiley, double points for Norlin
BTC Norlin Racing rounded off the first half of 2017 with an encouraging double points finish at Croft.
Heading into the fifth weekend on the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship calendar, the outfit had been looking to reverse a minor blip suffered at Oulton Park three weeks prior.
The team had been a consistent points-finisher, with both cars, up until that point and both Chris Smiley and Dave Newsham felt good points were the aim for the team’s pair of Chevrolet Cruze machines in North Yorkshire.
Qualifying was cut short, with Smiley and Newsham starting line-astern in 27th and 28th respectively – though Newsham felt the speed was there for more following practice.
He made strong progress in the opening race, making up ground on the way to 19th. Luck wasn’t on the Inverness-based racer’s side, however, as two laps from the chequer he was forced into pitting with a puncture – his race over after a long limp home, leaving him at the back for race two.
Smiley also managed to make strides – up to a creditable 20th position, leaving him primed to make further moves on the day.
Race two was status quo. Newsham recovered to his race one berth – prior to that puncture, and Smiley his.
The finale saw a season-best of 13th for Smiley, while Newsham completed a points double for the squad, ensuring he had tallied in each of the last five weekends.
“We had a strong start in the third race.” said the Northern Irishman. “I passed seven cars cleanly, had a season-best finish and brought the car home in one piece, even after a large shunt in the closing moments.
“All in all, I’m very pleased with the outcome considering where we started the day. It was important to get points – our pace deserved it.”
Team Principal Bert Taylor added: “There were a lot of challenging moments at Croft but the team, as usual, worked faultlessly through these.
“I’m pleased to see both drivers progress up the grid but our next goal is to get both drivers into the top 10 in qualifying.”
The team will attend the two-day test at Snetterton and Newsham is looking to learn: “This gives us a great opportunity to study and test the data that we have gathered in the first half of the season so we can move the car forward for the second half of the season.
“The team is in good shape and things will only get better.”