The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship heads North this weekend for the annual visit to the Scottish circuit of Knockhill. The circuit with strong connections to the BTCC, undulating scenery and high kerbs, provides an exciting mix of close racing and engineering challenges.
The clouds had rolled in overnight and rain had been falling for a little while when the team arrived at the circuit. On Saturday, the race nominations for the option tyre were submitted with Dan opting to run the option tyre in race one and Chris in race three. It wasn’t expected that these tyres would be making an appearance with the weather forecast showing rain all day.
Chris lined up on the grid in 5th and Dan 14th. The rain had been falling for most of the morning, so as expected the whole grid was on the Dunlop SportMaxx BluResponse wet tyres.
Visibility wasn’t amazing and both the cars worked hard to make the most of the challenging conditions. Chris finished 8th, bagging himself a good haul of points and putting him inside the top ten for the start of race two.
Dan also pushed hard but on lap six he clipped a kerb which sent his Honda Civic Type R off the circuit before coming to a standstill back on circuit facing the wrong direction. Once he had turned himself around, he got to work on getting caught back up. The extra space on the circuit served him well, and he was the fastest FWD car on the track. A safety car period enabled him to get on the back of the pack, and he finished the race 25th.
By race two, conditions had deteriorated considerably and the rain was falling a lot heavier. Starting P8 and P25 respectively, Chris and Dan both had a battle on their hands to keep their cars on the track. The race saw a number of drivers getting caught out by the conditions, with Sam Smelt having a big off in the 20th lap, resulting in the race being red flagged.
Dan put in an impressive drive, enjoying great pace despite the conditions and getting classified 16th. Chris had a tough race but still managed to finish in 12th and following two post-race exclusions resulted in 10th place for Smiley.
As a result of the exclusions following race two, Chris lined up 10th on the grid and Dan 14th for the start of race three. With conditions still very damp, Chris fought hard and enjoyed good battles on the track. Dan also worked hard to maximise on his strong pace and led a 10th and 11th place finish for the final race of the day.
Not quite achieving what was hoped, the team enjoyed a good haul of points in each race and the cars showed strong pace throughout which enables the team to head to Silverstone with confidence that they have the pace to race at the front of the pack.
Bert Taylor, a hard man to please, was happy with the results but knows that more could have been achieved. “We leave Knockhill having achieved a solid performance and scoring some good points. We have the cars in a good place at the moment and they have shown good pace all weekend. We know what we need to work on for Silverstone and will be back pushing hard.”
Chris Smiley had an up and down weekend but leaves Knockhill on a positive. “Our weekend started off well at Knockhill with the car feeling good in FP1 and FP2, which set us up nicely for qualifying. Qualifying went well with me ending up P5 (second FWD car on the grid), but the weather expected for Sunday didn’t look good.
“I turned up at the circuit on Sunday morning and it was drenched. Race one started well, but with terrible visibility and track conditions, I fell to 8th place.
“For race two we changed the setup on the car, but the best I could achieve was 10th in a race that was stopped prematurely due to worsening conditions. In race three the car felt great as we had changed the setup again. Progress was hard to make and I got the car home in 11th. I was glad to have the car in one piece and to achieve some consistent points finishes from the weekend.
“There are lots of positives to take home from Knockhill as we showed great pace in qualifying on Saturday. Big thank you to all the team, and our sponsors for another great weekend of racing. I’m really looking forward to Silverstone in three weeks time.”
Dan Lloyd also showed great pace but was left disappointed after an error in race one. “It was a shame that we didn’t get the results that looked possible this weekend. I am really kicking myself after the mistake that I made in the first race. I was really happy with how I was driving in the second race and managed to get myself up to 15th before the red flag.
“I had top ten pace, so that was really great to see. In race three I managed to get the car into the top ten, which meant that we had a good load of points for the team. There are lots of positives to take from the weekend. The team and the car were great and I am looking forward to getting to Silverstone.”
The team leaves Knockhill with a good haul of points, and consistently good pace, that will serve them well for Silverstone next month.
Chris Smiley – 12th
Dan Lloyd – 18th
BTC Norlin Racing – 8th
Independent Drivers Championship
Chris Smiley – 5th
Dan Lloyd – 14th
Independent Teams Championship
BTC Norlin Racing – 4th
Jack Sears Trophy
Chris Smiley – 2nd
Dan Lloyd – 8th
Photography: Phil Laughton
Courtesy of BTC Racing