Photo: Peter Taylor / PSP

Chris Smiley scores pole for TCR UK opener

Chris Smiley enjoyed the ideal start to life in the TCR UK Championship after topping the times in qualifying for the opening rounds of the season at Oulton Park.

On his debut with the newly-founded Restart Racing squad, Smiley left it late in the session to post what would be his quickest time, with a 1:42.741s lap being good enough to beat the Volkswagen of Issac Smith to top spot.

Smiley had gone quicker than the former MINI CHALLENGE racer earlier in the session only to lose the time to track limits but would then grab pole on his final run to snare the early points lead.

Smith would be the only other driver able to break the 1:43s mark having done so relatively early on, and he would be unable to improve late on, with Bruce Winfield’s Cupra grabbing third spot; albeit half a second off the pace.

Max Hart ensured there would be four different makes in the top four with the fourth fastest time with defending champion Lewis Kent in fifth for the European race debut of the Hyundai Veloster.

Adam Shepherd – quickest in official testing at Brands Hatch – completed the top six as the final driver within a second of the pole position time.

Rob Butler and Callum Newsham followed closely behind, wiuth the top ten completed by Jessica Hawkins and Bradley Kent.

Elsewhere, Brad Hutchison was the lead Audi driver in twelfth spot, just ahead of the Subaru of Ant Whorton-Eales, with Matthew Wilson 17th for the debut race for the new Cupra Leon Competicion.

Both races are scheduled for Bank Holiday Monday, with the first kicking off at 9:00 local time.