Restart Racing has acquired two TBLs (racing licences) and two CUPRA Leons to make the jump back into the top-flight touring car series, in which Smiley has 162 race starts to his name, with five podiums including a victory at Rockingham in 2018 while racing with the forerunner to his current team, run by experienced team owner Bert Taylor.
While out of the BTCC, Smiley has kept busy, winning the burgeoning TCR UK Touring Car Championship in 2022, as well as representing the United Kingdom and Motorsport UK at the second running of the FIA Motorsport Games at Le Castellet in November last year.
Restart Racing will effectively be new to the BTCC, but only in name. Team principal Ben Taylor has worked with Chris during his previous tenure in the BTCC, and returns as his engineer for the new campaign with the competitive CUPRA Leon, with podiums as the target for the new season.
2024 will be Chris’ first time competing with the championship’s new Hybrid Energy Management system from Cosworth, which after a two-year bedding-in period, will feature an increased power output for 2024, adding a strategic dynamic to the typical hard racing which the BTCC is famous for.
Restart Racing, based in Grays, Essex, is new to the BTCC, and is heading into its third year of competition. The team has run Chris to title success in the TCR UK championship, and adds the BTCC to an expanded portfolio of programmes in 2024.
The 2024 BTCC season features a ten-round calendar, with races at iconic UK venues including Silverstone, Brands Hatch, Donington Park, Thruxton, Croft, Snetterton, Oulton Park, and Knockhill.
The team will confirm the driver of its second CUPRA Leon within the next few weeks.
Chris Smiley said:
“I’m really excited about returning to the BTCC, and coming with Restart Racing and a new CUPRA. It was the right time to take a break, as it also now the right time to come back in. To be back and to bring Restart Racing with me and to launch this new project is a real thrill. We know the championship is the right place to be. It’s also an exceptionally tough series, so we’re under no illusions. This is a long term project to build up this race team and push our way towards the front.
“The BTCC is where my heart is and where I want to race, and with the CUPRA we’ve acquired and which we’ve already started working on, we’ll have a great base from which to compete with, and hopefully score some surprises against the manufacturer teams. I can’t wait to get started.”
Ben Taylor, team principal, said:
“It’s great to be back in the BTCC next year as we look to expand Restart Racing and become an established team competing in all types of touring car racing around the world.
“The BTCC is world-famous as one of the most competitive, toughest, and exciting racing series in the world, so there’s no question that’s where a team like Restart Racing should be. We’ve cut our teeth winning the TCR UK championship right out of the gate, and now it’s on to seeing what we can do in the BTCC, with some new rules since Chris and I were last there, and a new car, but a lot of it is the same, and we know what we need to do to get some good results. We’re relishing the challenge, and we’re really looking forward to the start of the season ahead.”
Artwork credit Restart Racing
Photo credit Phil Laughton Photography
Restart Racing has prepared, raced, and won at some of the most famous race circuits in the world. The team has built up a wealth of experience in the motorsport industry and made it its business to consistently build and run race-winning cars.
Over the years the team has run cars by manufacturers such as Honda, TVR, BMW, Chevrolet, Vauxhall, Porsche, Hyundai and Volkswagen in the BTCC, GT3 sports car series, and Hot Rods.
In 2022, our Essex-based professional team competed in the hard-fought TCR UK Touring Car Championship with Chris Smiley at the wheel, pitted against a total of 16 other teams. Having collected our race car from Honda’s specialist preparation company in Italy only days before the start of the season, Chris went on to secure pole position and win the first race at Oulton Park, and would go on to win the championship at Snetterton at the final round.
It turned out to be a great season of racing at some of the UK’s premier circuits, culminating in the team being chosen to represent the UK at the prestigious FIA Motorsport Games at the Paul Ricard circuit in France, where Chris Smiley finished in eighth position against competitors from around the world.
In 2024, the team heads to the UK’s premier motorsport category, the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship, with Chris Smiley returning to the series where he’s a proven race winner, competing with a pair of CUPRA Leons.
The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship is one of the best-loved, most illustrious and famous motor racing championships in the world. Only Formula 1 and America’s NASCAR stock car series have longer histories – since its inception in 1958, it has attracted and captivated millions of fans around the world.
The BTCC’s two-litre formula continues to provide one of motor sport’s most addictive, action-packed atmospheres for an audience of millions. It is the perfect platform for teams, drivers and sponsors to raise their profiles and reputations.
Chris Smiley returns to the BTCC with Restart Racing was first seen on Restart Racing