CHRIS SMILEY DELIGHTED TO SECURE MAIDEN FRONT ROW START

Chris Smiley was left delighted after scoring both his and BTC Norlin Racing’s best qualifying in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.

In what was a dramatic session around Donington Park in damp conditions, the Northern Irishman left it late to springboard himself to the top of the times.

Being displaced by Josh Cook at the chequered flag, Smiley’s 1:19.846 was good enough to secure a front row start, and he is keen to now convert it into his best finish in the series since debuting in 2016.

“It is fantastic result and I’m delighted, if not a little frustrated,” Smiley told BTCC Crazy. “There was a bit more in the car and I made a mistake at Coppice which I think cost us pole position – that is the way it goes sometimes though.

“This is great for the team though. We have had limited running this season and Brands Hatch was very much a shakedown for us, and we did good things there. I think that if it hadn’t of been for a little bit of bad luck then we would have come here this weekend inside the top ten in the championship.

“We’ve been getting our heads around the car and more importantly kept ourselves under the radar. We have had good pace all weekend and that should hopefully translate across to the three races today.

“Starting from the front row is always going to make the first race a little easier. I’m here to win but if I finish anywhere inside the top three then that would be a great achievement – we will see what happens.”

BTC Norlin Racing will have two Type R’s starting inside the top ten in the opening encounter with James Nash having qualified seventh.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jakob Ebrey Photography