For­mer Mini champ Smi­ley makes BTCC move with Team Hard

Motor Sport News - - Racing News -

Team Hard bosses have tar­geted reg­u­lar top 10 fin­ishes in the Bri­tish Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship this sea­son af­ter sign­ing for­mer Mini Chal­lenge cham­pion Chris Smi­ley.

The North­ern Ir­ish­man, who con­tested the Volk­swa­gen Scirocco R-cup in 2014, will drive the squad’s up­dated Toy­ota Aven­sis, which fea­tures a new lighter chas­sis.

Team prin­ci­pal Tony Gil­ham said: “We have fol­lowed Chris’s progress closely, and ev­ery­one who has worked with him knows he is a tal­ent. The BTCC is very com­pet­i­tive and we know that, but there is no rea­son we can’t reg­u­larly be in the points. That has to be our tar­get for the sea­son.”

Smi­ley, who tested a Triple Eight Rac­ing MG as his prize for win­ning the Mini Chal­lenge’s Best of Bri­tish Award, said he was look­ing for­ward to the pro­gres­sion. “The NGTC cars aren’t hugely dif­fer­ent to the Mi­nis or the Scirocco,” he said. “They’re both tur­bocharged and front-wheel drive, but the tour­ing car is weighted very dif­fer­ently and the sus­pen­sion be­haves much dif­fer­ently as they aren’t pro­duc­tion cars so they feel more racy. I also have to learn about the tyres be­cause this will be the first time I’ve raced in a se­ries with two dif­fer­ent tyre com­pounds. It all adds to the chal­lenge but I can’t wait to get go­ing.” ● Team Hard has bought two Ginetta G55s to run in the GT4 divi­sion of the Bri­tish GT Cham­pi­onship this sea­son. It will op­er­ate the cars along­side 14 Volk­swa­gen Rac­ing Cup ma­chines. “Team Hard wants to be rep­re­sented on all rungs of the lad­der, and putting a GT pro­gramme in place made per­fect sense for us,” said Gil­ham. “Sin­gle-seaters are be­com­ing pro­hib­i­tively ex­pen­sive but we want to help young driv­ers up the lad­der. By adding a GT pro­gramme to our BTCC at­tack, we have all of the bases cov­ered.”

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