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Chris Smiley returns to the BTCC with Restart Racing

Chris Smiley will return to the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship in 2024 after two years away, with a new team to the championship, Restart Racing, making its BTCC debut. 

Restart Racing has acquired two TBLs and two CUPRA Leons to make the jump back into the top-flight touring car series, in which Smiley has 162 race starts to his name, with five podiums including a victory at Rockingham in 2018 while racing with the forerunner to his current team, run by experienced team owner Bert Taylor. 

While out of the BTCC, Smiley has kept busy, winning the TCR UK Touring Car Championship in 2022, as well as representing the United Kingdom and Motorsport UK at the second running of the FIA Motorsport Games at Le Castellet in November last year. 

Restart Racing will effectively be new to the BTCC, but only in name. Team Principal Ben Taylor has worked with Chris during his previous tenure in the BTCC, and returns as his engineer for the new campaign with the competitive CUPRA Leon, with podiums as the target for the new season. 

2024 will be Chris’ first time competing with the championship’s new Hybrid Energy Management system from Cosworth, which will feature an increased power output for 2024, adding a strategic dynamic to the typical hard racing which the BTCC is famous for. 

The team will confirm the driver of its second CUPRA Leon within the next few weeks. 

Chris Smiley said: “I’m really excited about returning to the BTCC, with Restart Racing and a new CUPRA. It was the right time to take a break, as it also now the right time to come back in. To be back and to bring Restart Racing with me and to launch this new project is a real thrill. We know the championship is the right place to be. It’s also an exceptionally tough series, so we’re under no illusions. This is a long-term project to build up this race team and push our way towards the front. 

“The BTCC is where my heart is and where I want to race, and with the CUPRA we’ve acquired and which we’ve already started working on, we’ll have a great base from which to compete with, and hopefully score some surprises against the manufacturer teams. I can’t wait to get started.” 

Ben Taylor, Team Principal, said: “It’s great to be back in the BTCC next year as we look to expand Restart Racing and become an established team competing in all types of touring car racing around the world. 

“The BTCC is world-famous as one of the most competitive, toughest, and exciting racing series’ in the world, so there’s no question that’s where a team like Restart Racing should be. We’ve cut our teeth winning the TCR UK championship right out of the gate, and now it’s on to seeing what we can do in the BTCC, with some new rules since Chris and I were last there, and a new car, but a lot of it is the same, and we know what we need to do to get some good results. We’re relishing the challenge, and we’re really looking forward to the start of the season ahead.” 

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