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Chris Smiley delighted with ‘genuine pace’ en route to maiden BTCC podium

BTC Norlin’s Chris Smiley says he is ‘over the moon’ with his first British Touring Car Championship podium, particularly as it showed the ‘genuine pace’ of his Honda Civic Type R.

The Northern Irishman has starred all weekend at Donington Park, qualifying on the front-row of the grid in a wet qualifying session yesterday, and securing seventh position in race one.

He told TouringCars.Net he was pleased he didn’t ‘luck in’ to his maiden podium, but earnt it with the pace of his BTC Norlin Honda in race two.

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“I’m over the moon for both me and the team,” said Smiley. “It’s a bit long over due to be honest.

“It just feels very satisfying to stand up there on the podium and know that you’ve worked hard for it – it wasn’t lucky, it wasn’t gifted to us.

“It was genuine pace and that’s why we finished where we finished.”

Smiley admits the hard tyre for race one was not the preferred option, but believes it helped him to have an advantage for the second race.

“I knew the hard tyre wasn’t the right option for race one – we didn’t know we were going to qualify in P2,” explained Smiley. “Probably if we knew what we know now we wouldn’t have done that.

“We had a little bit of ballast on the car there – 27 kilos – the car felt good, little bit to work on the setup.

“But we got it out of the way first thing this morning. Now we can concentrate on going racing. We do have 66 kilos on the car for race three. Hopefully I can finish inside the top ten somewhere, that for me will be a good day.”

Smiley will line up eighth for the final race of the day, once again using the medium compound tyre, while the majority of the grid run the hard tyre.

He feels relieved that the potential he has showed at Donington Park has translated into a strong result, and is keen to carry this momentum forward.

“It just gets the monkey off the back, now we need to concentrate on getting up there more often and just keeping the pressure on now.

“This is just the start of it really. I need to work a little bit on my driving, and that will come. We can see where we can find the little advantages and its all going to come.”

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