Veteran racer Michael Caine now steps in at Team .HARD for the remainder of the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, as he replaces Chris Smiley in the third Toyota Avensis run by Tony Gilham’s outfit.
The 46-year-old joins Jake Hill and Michael Epps after a three-year absence from the series, as he previously raced for Motorbase at Croft back in 2013.
Caine, who has tasted title glory in the British GT championship, will make his return at Snetterton, having raced in three BTCC race weekends, with his best result of eighth coming at Croft three years ago.
““This opportunity came up, and it is interesting,” explained the Newmarket-based driver.
“The team has punched above its weight this season with Michael Epps and Jake Hill, and I hope I will be able to add some experience to the operation. Lots of people behind the scenes have helped to make this possible, and I will give it my best shot.”
Gilham himself explained that the Kent-based outfit is still wanting to be involved with Smiley, despite financial issues forcing the Carrickfergus driver to relinquish his seat in the series.
“Due to him being let down he has been up against it from day one and therefore unable to showcase what he can really do,” he said.
“We’re absolutely delighted to welcome Michael Caine for the rest of the year, who can help push the car forwards.
“Michael has vast experience and has shown with Motorbase that he can secure results in both GT racing and the BTCC. We’re all looking forward to working together.”
Smiley now switches to the Renault Sport UK Clio Cup with JamSport alongside Ant Whorton-Eales, as the team has strong ties with Team HARD, which follows on from the latter’s first test recently in BTCC machinery.
The 24-year-old feels that he has unfinished business in the BTCC, even with the results not showing his full potential.
“I had a first run in the JamSport car at Donington Park last Friday and felt right at home. The UK Clio Cup car is a lovely piece of kit and felt great to drive, plus I was able to put in an identical time to Ant, which is encouraging.
“Being back in a tourer is what I want longer-term. The UK Clio Cup gives me the opportunity to prove myself again and work towards getting back there.”