Photo: Restart Racing

Chris Smiley to lead Restart Racing programme

Chris Smiley will return to the BTCC for the 2024 season after being named as the first driver with series newcomers Restart Racing.

Smiley will be at the wheel of one of two Cupra Leons being run by the team as it makes its BTCC debut, having spent the past two seasons competing in TCR UK – where it won the title in 2022.

Whilst the Restart name is new to the BTCC, several members within the team previously worked as part of the original BTC Racing squad before it was sold to Steve Dudman and ultimately renamed as One Motorsport.

“I’m really excited about returning to the BTCC, with Restart Racing and a new Cupra,” Smiley said. “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 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 Cuprs 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, who engineered Smiley in the past, will take on the team principal role.

“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,” he said.

“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 time to see what we can do in the BTCC, with new rules since Chris and I were last there, and a new car. However, 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.”