Chris Smiley believes a top-10 breakthrough in the British Touring Car Championship is within touching distance after his BTC Norlin Racing team took another step forward at Knockhill.
The Carrick driver collected points for the third race weekend in succession at the Scottish circuit, while team mate Dave Newsham picked up his first independent win at his home circuit.
Qualifying was a lottery in drying conditions and getting stuck in traffic on his flying lap, Smiley was resigned to a 26th place start. In contrast, Newsham was eighth after getting a clear run.
In race one, Smiley began to rise up the order, making clean and decisive overtaking moves around the tight Fife circuit. More consistent progress would be rewarded in race two, with the 25-year-old collecting points with a drive to 14th place, and with the faster, sot tyre to run in race three, the top-10 was in his sights.
Race two witnessed the Northern Irish owned team collect their first trophy of the season. Newsham, whose strong grid position ultimately paid off, collected three top-10 results and with that the team’s first independent win.
With the progress made at Knockhill, Smiley moves into 11th in the Independent drivers’ standings, while BTC Norlin Racing are now 4th in the independent team’s championship.
“The pace was good,” said Smiley, “It was just a shame about qualifying because we were just as quick as Dave all weekend. The team is taking a step forward in every round and now we’ve got a taste for trophies we’re all desperate for more success.”