This weekend, BTC Norlin Racing headed to Croft Circuit for the fifth round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, marking the end of the first half of the 2018 season.
It would be fair to say that things have been extremely busy for the team since Oulton Park, following the starting line incident which ended both Chris Smiley and Dan Lloyd’s race weekend prematurely in the final race.
Both cars sustained damage, but the team has put in an epic shift to get the cars ready to race at the North Yorkshire circuit. Having led the Jack Sears Trophy standings heading into Oulton Park, and after losing the lead to Dan Cammish by 11 points, Chris arrived at Croft keen to get back on top.
Joining the team at Oulton Park, Dan Lloyd has settled into the team and his car well, and despite the disappointment over his early race finish in the final race of the day, he felt the weekend had been successful and was excited to get going at Croft.
After a stellar effort by the team, the cars launched into FP1 this morning, with an agenda of tyre preparation for the races and ensuring that the cars were as they should be following the rebuilds.
FP1 provided what was needed, with race tyres scrubbed and useful driver feedback obtained to enable the team to work on setup for the next session. Chris Smiley ended the 40 minutes in P26 with a fastest lap of 1:26.20 and Dan Lloyd in P28 with a 1:26.34.
FP2 kicked off at lunchtime, Chris and Dan were keen to get back out to continue their progress up the timesheets. A couple of red flags put the running schedule under pressure, finishing the sessions in 16th (Chris) and 19th (Dan) were happy with the progress made. With qualifying to follow in just over two hours, there was plenty to be looking at for the team and the drivers.
After a promising morning in the cars and with sights set on a return to the top ten, qualifying was eagerly anticipated. Finding space on the 2.1 mile circuit at the right time was a challenge, but on lap six Dan put together a great lap that earned him 11th on the grid for the first race of the day on Sunday and the first of the Honda Civic Type Rs.
Also looking to find the sweet spot of timing, and space on the circuit, Chris pushed hard to join his teammate. Unfortunately, it wasn’t his day and he qualified 23rd for race one. Whilst disappointing for Chris, he feels that there is more in the car and will be back fighting tomorrow to progress up the gird over the three races.
Team Boss Bert Taylor was delighted for the team who have put in some serious hours to get the cars ready for the weekend. “That was fantastic result considering the predicament we were in at 1:15am this morning as we were still working on the cars after the damage from Oulton Park. Dan is only in his second weekend with the team and I am so pleased with how he got on in qualifying. We are all disappointed for Chris, but we have looked at the data and can see that he has got the circuit sussed and will be ready to go again tomorrow.”
Photography: Phil Laughton