Chris Smiley Joins EXCELR8 for 2020
EXCELR8 Motorsport BTCC team are delighted to announce the signing of race winning driver Chris Smiley for the 2020 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season.
Smiley, 27, brings a wealth of experience to the team having raced in the series for four years.
After a successful debut year in the championship, EXCELR8 is delighted to announce Smiley to help guide the team over the coming season. Picking up his maiden win in 2018, Smiley took the honours at Rockingham, also recording the fastest lap of the race. His success would continue into 2019 where he racked up three podiums and a first pole position at Snetterton, proving his potential by dicing with former champions Ash Sutton and Jason Plato.
Smiley first rose in prominence in 2013, winning the MINI CHALLENGE JCW Class after a late season run that saw him pick up eight victories in the final eleven races. He raced Volkswagen’s the following year before moving up to the BTCC with TLC Racing in 2016. After a promising debut campaign, he progressed to BTC Norlin the following year where he became a regular points scorer.
Sampling three different manufacturers in four years, the Northern Irish driver will bring a wealth of experience to EXCELR8 as they develop their new Hyundai i30 N Performance duo.
Commenting on his new chapter of racing, Chris Smiley said;
“I’m very excited to be joining EXCELR8 Motorsport for the new season. It is going to be a good challenge to work with the team and bring Hyundai into the BTCC as a new manufacturer.
“I know the team at EXCELR8 have made an incredible effort with the new car over the winter months and have strengthened their engineering capabilities and brought in some very talented people to work on the project. Developing a new car is always a great challenge, and to do it with a brand that has a tremendous passion for motorsport like Hyundai means this is a fantastic opportunity for everyone involved to create something really special.
“The BTCC is an ultra-competitive championship and being a race winner in the series I know that I can mix it at the sharp end of the series. I fully believe that this new project will allow me to do that, and I am more motivated than ever to make this new partnership a success – not just for one season but as a long-term plan for us both.”
Smiley will join fellow Touring Car stable Senna Proctor at the team, who are preparing for the BTCC’s opening round at Donington Park on 28-29th March 2020.
Team Principal Ollie Shepherd commented;
“Chris Smiley alongside Senna Proctor, what a driver line-up! We now know that we have the drivers to win BTCC races, we have the best looking operation to do our partners proud, we have a superstar engineering team to be announced and we have new cars that are ticking all the right boxes during the development and build process. 2020 will be the year when we surprise the establishment! Overconfident, no way! Chris and Senna are two of the best young drivers in BTCC and this year we will do our very best to give them the tools to get the job done.”
The sentiment was backed up by Team Owner Justina Williams who said;
“I have known Chris since his days in the MINI CHALLENGE, when he won the title that we should have won in 2013! Back then, Chris was a dedicated and tenacious driver who never gave up, his recent seasons in BTCC have proved that this was no one off. Chris always gives it his all and both I and the team are looking forward to seeing him take on the grandee teams, weekend after weekend. 2020 will be the year when we show we are not just in BTCC to make up the numbers, we are here to win. With our new Hyundai cars, two experienced and blisteringly fast young drivers in Chris and Senna, along with a star engineering signing (soon to be announced), we are sure to leap up the grid, though of course, time will tell!
I would also like to wish Rob Smith all the best for his future racing plans. We really hoped to get Rob racing with us again this year, but the budget just didn’t come together in time, but we will be working hard with Rob to get him back in BTCC in 2021“