It was a good and bad weekend for Restart Racing on its trip to the Knockhill circuit in Scotland, with JAS Motorsport development driver Scott Sumpton securing his career-best result, while on the flipside Chris Smiley was chasing car issues all weekend, including a race-win-stealing suspension failure.
Scott ended up finishing in eighth place in the second of three races at the weekend, his first top ten finish since joining the championship last year, and finished all three races in the top 12 to mark his best weekend.
Smiley meanwhile had a weekend to forget after qualifying and finishing Race 1 down in ninth place. Sunday turned into a complete disaster, with two DNFs for the reigning champion due to mechanical issues, all but ending any chance of retaining his title.
In Race 1, Chris was able to grapple with a straight-line performance problem to wrestle the car across the line in ninth where he started, which crucially secured him a front row spot for Race 2 on Sunday morning.
Scott was set to score pole position for the race after he was running in tenth place behind Chris in the first heat, until he was one of many drivers handed a track limits penalty which dropped him to 12th in the final order.
Race 2 could have been the start of a turnaround, as Chris launched into the lead from second on the grid, and had built a two-second gap to the car behind before the front-left suspension failed on his Civic, and he had to return to the pit lane after just two laps.
Scott rescued an incredible result for the team, with the young JAS Motorsport Driver Development Programme student fighting his way up the order to finish in eighth position, his personal best result.
Chris started eighth for Race 3, with Scott 15th, and Scott again had a great race, working his way up to finish the race tenth, before a track limits penalty dropped him back to a still credible 12th place at the line.
Chris’ car was again underperforming, and with the problem escalating Chris retired the car with four laps to go.
The team is delighted with the result for Scott on a difficult weekend. The team will be working hard with car builders JAS Motorsport to find solutions to the problems with Chris’ car for the remaining three rounds of the championship at Silverstone, Donington Park, and Brands Hatch.
“It’s been a very challenging weekend, with a lost opportunity to score our first win of the year in the second race.
“We’ve been chasing problems with the car all weekend, and we’re working hard with JAS Motorsport to resolve them. We had no straight line speed in the first race, and were just able to finish where we started in P9.
“With the reversed grid Race 2, we had a real chance though. I’d managed to build a two-second lead, and the guy behind us was holding the field up so I could have got away and maybe scored the win, but then the suspension failed with no warning on the second lap.
“In Race 3, we again had no speed, and were fighting for places we shouldn’t have been fighting for. It’s very disheartening, but we’ll work hard on it and hopefully will be back where we should be for the last rounds in the season.
“At this point, there’s no question it’s turned into a development year for the new car rather than a championship-contending season – the title is no longer really anything I’m thinking about.”
“I’m really happy with the weekend. Everything I’ve been learning with JAS Motorsport and Restart Racing has been helped me out massively as a driver and this weekend I was able to put it to good use, and hopefully it keeps going like this for the rest of the season.
“It was really good racing between everybody here. I’ve managed to prove to myself I’m able to overtake and get stuck into some proper racing.
“The aim for rest of this year is to keep pushing forward and moving closer to the sharp end of the grid, and hopefully soon I’ll be able to fight for podiums.”
“It’s obviously been a very tricky weekend for us, and we’ve not had the results we expected with Chris. We know we need to work hard to resolve these issues, and we’re working hard with JAS Motorsport to make sure we’re able to be competitive and to finish the season on a high. We’re proud to have been the first team in the world to run the Civic FL5, but obviously this is not where we, or this car should be on the grid, and we need to fix that right away.
“For Scott, I’m over the moon. After a lot of bad luck at the start of the year, this was a great weekend for him, with three top 12 finishes, as well as his career-best finish in eighth, it’s been a smashing weekend and also gives us something to build on as we have some exciting races coming up to finish off the season.”
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.
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Mixed fortunes for Restart Racing at Knockhill was first seen on Restart Racing