Chris Smiley has ‘unfinished business’ in the BTCC
Despite being a new team with Restart Racing there is a familiar face returning to the championship in Chris Smiley, who returns to the BTCC after two seasons away.
“It feels like we’re back to finish off a little bit of unfinished business,” said Smiley.
The team will take over two Cupra Leon cars previously run by Team HARD, a car that Smiley believes has more potential to unlock.
“It showed flashes of pace at points last year. I think it lacked a little bit of consistency, but we can sort of sharpen up the areas where we think it’s lacking in.
“It’s obviously going to take me probably a little bit of time to adapt to the hybrid and just fully get back into the BTCC game.”
The return to the championship has left Smiley optimistic for the 2024 season, but he’s fully aware that the level of competition is of an extremely high standard.
“I’m not stupid. I’m under no illusion of how tough this championship is. I think if we can get ourselves a good little bit of pre-season testing, get ourselves with a setup that we think is somewhere good to start from, that will give us a platform to build on.
“Obviously, the top ten is where you have to be aiming for. It’s all about consistency. It’s about working with people who you’ve worked with for a long time, who know what you need to get out of a car.
“I’m very fortunate that Ben and Bert Taylor have stuck with me for the last seven or eight seasons now. They know me inside out and I’m looking forward to it.”
Alongside Smiley is a newcomer to the BTCC in 19-year-old Scott Sumpton.
“For my first time to get out in a car, I really can’t wait for that,” said Sumton. Then to be sitting with loads of other British Touring Cars around me, waiting for the lights to go out. I can’t wait for that either.”
Despite his young age, Sumpton has already had gained solid TCR experience in both the UK and overseas.
“I’ve learned a lot on how to deal with a front-wheel drive, high-horsepower car. I’ve had a really good time in that. Over in Spain as well, we got two podiums to finish off the season in 2023.
“I think it’s set me up really nicely and given me a big boost of confidence to try and go into British Touring Cars and do the best I can.
“I think Jack Sears Trophy, that’s what I want to aim for, to be champion of that. Of course, it’s not going to be easy – there is a lot of great competition.
“I think if we set ourselves a target and aim for that, then there’s no reason why we can’t do great things this year.”
The 2024 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship gets underway at Donington Park on 27/28 April, tickets for every event can be purchased here while every qualifying session and race will be broadcast live across the ITV network.
Get to know the BTCC’s newest team – Restart Racing