New TCN Logo

Upcoming events:

New TCN Logo

Chris Smiley pleased with ‘morale boosting’ front row start

BTC Norlin’s Chris Smiley said he was happy to give the team a ‘morale boost’ after his late qualifying runs placed him second on the grid for race one at Donington Park. 

The Northern Irishman looked set for a maiden pole position, but was pipped by Josh Cook’s Vauxhall Astra by 0.030s late in the session.

He told TouringCars.Net he is treating this weekend as the start of the season, as a lack of pre-season preparation hindered his chances at Brands Hatch three weeks ago.

- Advertisement -

“Donington is one of my favourite tracks,” said Smiley.  “I don’t particularly like Brands but we had a good weekend there. Unlucky – but a good weekend.

“I think if you look back at Brands that was pretty much our shakedown and test session. We had very very little pre-season testing, the weather wasn’t good, the cars weren’t finished in time. So we’re making up for lost time now.”

Despite being pleased with his first ever front-row start in the BTCC, Smiley felt pole slipped away from him due to a mistake on his best lap.

“That lap I did for second position wasn’t my best lap,” explained Smiley.  “I made a slight mistake at Coppice and I didn’t get the run down the back straight, but that’s the way it goes.

“We’re starting from the front row, we’ve got 30 cars behind us. We’re in a strong position. To be honest I don’t really mind if its wet or dry because at Brands we had pace in the wet or dry.”

The majority of the grid has opted to select the hard tyre for the reverse grid race, but both BTC Norlin cars of Smiley and James Nash have selected it for the opening race of the day.

“The hard tyre is our first selection for race one which is not particularly nice,” he said.  “But I’m hoping that a lot of other cars have picked the hard tyre just to get it out of the way.

“It’s going to be an interesting race.”

Smiley also believed that finding clear track during qualifying helped him to almost score pole position.

Whenever I came in, my engineers pulled a bit of a move and we just waited. We took a bit of a gap, I knew the car was good. I knew if we got a few clear laps that we could improve our time, and that’s what we did.

“It’s good for the whole team, for the sponsors, it just gives everyone a bit of a morale boost that we do actually have the pace, which we did have at Brands we were just unlucky not to show it.”

Although a front-row start is certainly an exciting prospect for Smiley, he is focused on utilising his strong grid position to score solid points.

“You just need to collect points. I just want to finish and collect points. If I can finish in the top three then great, you need to collect points in this championship.

“In the gravel at turn one is not going to help you – you’re a hero for a few seconds and then it all goes away from you. We just need to get the car off the line and see how everyone plays their cards. I do believe that we have a good wet pace in the car – the dry is a bit of an unknown – no-one knows up and down the grid.

“But going by our pace here at the media day where we were running full ballast, the car felt really good. We’ve got a lot more positives than negatives.”

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Stay Connected


Must Read

- Advertisement -

Related News

- Advertisement -