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Chris Smiley ‘disappointed’ after Oulton yields ‘the worst luck’

Chris Smiley left Oulton Park disappointed after enduring his first points-less weekend of the season in the British Touring Car Championship, with the BTC Racing driver only finishing one race.

Smiley had qualified in a respectable 11th place, but a five-place grid penalty from the last round at Croft meant the Northern Irishman would line up in 16th for the first race of the day.

Although he lost a place at the start, Smiley regained the spot later in the race but ultimately finished just outside the points in 16th on the difficult-to-pass Cheshire circuit.

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Smiley was then the victim of unfortunate luck in the second encounter when, approaching the Island hairpin on lap one, his team-mate Josh Cook collected Jack Goff and cue-balled the Team HARD driver into the innocent Smiley, who was ahead on the road and turning into the corner.

The incident eliminated Smiley and Goff on the spot, leaving the team with a Honda to repair and Smiley starting from last on the grid for race three.

With an uphill task ahead, the Civic then developed a technical issue with the alternator and Smiley had to retire to the pits to call it a day.

“I feel I’ve been strong all weekend but have just had the worst luck you could imagine,” said Smiley. “I’m disappointed with the results, but at the same time, I’m not disappointed with the way I’ve driven as there was nothing I could have done differently to change anything.

“I’ve given it my all behind the wheel, but we had a few little issues that were down to things that you wouldn’t expect to happen, and that were no fault of me or the team that set us back.

“Without the issue in qualifying, we’d have been starting in a much better position for race one, and we could have scored some good points in race two without the incident on the opening lap.

“The team did a great job to repair the car after race two and we were on a mission until an issue with the alternator meant I lost power steering and I was forced to retire as it just wasn’t safe to continue.

“It was a shame because the car felt awesome and the team had worked miracles to get it out for the start.”

Despite the setback weekend, which has seen Smiley drop to 17th in the drivers’ championship standings whilst Cook sits third, the 27-year-old is optimistic that he is in a strong position to extract the most out of the car in the second half of the year.

“We have a base set-up that works on the car and we are very close to being in the sweet spot with it.

“I’m looking forward to the two-day test at Snetterton to try some changes and do some of the work that we can’t do on a race weekend, and then we can come out fighting in the second half of the season.”

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