After securing a brace of TOCA BTCC Licences, BTC Norlin Racing has announced Chris Smiley as the first driver for its 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship assault.
The experienced squad returns to the BTCC next season with a pair of Chevrolet Cruze machines previously raced by Power Maxed Racing, also acquiring the team’s two TBLs while PMR compete under a brace of TOCA loan licences for its new Vauxhall programme.
Smiley will fill the first Chevrolet seat for BTC Norlin Racing after a part-time campaign with Team HARD in 2016, hotel development company Norlin having agreed a multi-year deal to become lead sponsor.
Both cars are currently being prepared at the outfit’s Bicester base, Smiley having already tested at Donington Park.
The former Mini Challenge champion enthused: “For me, this is the start of my BTCC career. I didn’t really get enough running this year to learn anything, so I am beginning afresh. I will be able to properly attack the championship in 2017.
“I am grateful for the people who have stood by me – and the guys at Norlin have been so enthusiastic. They are family friends and we have been able to put together a team of highly talented people. I really can’t wait to get started.
“We want to be solidly in the top 10 to start with and build from there. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be expecting podiums and strong results from reverse grid races over the latter part of the year.”
BTC Norlin Racing boss Bert Taylor said: “We are delighted to announce this partnership with Norlin and to get Chris on board is a real coup.
“I worked with Chris at Team HARD this season and saw first-hand what a talent he is. He is utterly focused on his career and is dedicated to winning, which is the same passion that we have as a team.
“We have expanded the backroom staff at BTC Norlin Racing and have brought in expertise. We have taken on staff that have worked with the likes of RML and Triple Eight, so we feel confident we can move forward. We have chosen to run with the Chevrolet initially because it is a car we know well, and we have run them before. In the longer term, our plan is to become a constructor in our own right, and that is the aim for 2018.”