BTC Norlin Racing enjoyed a strong showing in the official Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship test at Donington Park, Chris Smiley saying that it gives the team a boost ahead of the 2017 season.

The returning BTC squad finished third and ninth come the conclusion of Thursday’s timed session, Smiley the quicker of the Chevrolet Cruze pairing and just 0.198s adrift of Tom Ingram who topped the timesheets.

“Today was the first day I’ve driven my own car but I felt comfortable straightaway”, said Smiley afterwards, returning to the BTCC after a half-season spell in a Toyota Avensis in 2016.

“Okay, it’s not a race weekend but this gives the whole team a boost going to Brands Hatch as it proves we’re not far away. We’re in the mix.”

Different agendas and strategies during the afternoon rendered laptimes relatively unreliable, although the BTC Norlin outfit were another that approached the test looking to make vital set-up gains.

Returning team-mate Dave Newsham made sure both Chevrolets sat inside the top 10 come the end of the afternoon, finishing ninth in the final classification.

Newsham himself spent the majority of the afternoon dialing in the second Cruze, after braking issues initially made the car ‘a handful at times’ when scrubbing off speed heading into the tighter corners.

Smiley’s best lap was not without drama itself, saying “I didn’t even hook my best lap up properly because I made a mistake.”