British Touring Cars: Chris Smiley secures return in 2017

Chris Smiley will compete for BTC Norlin Racing in the 2017 BTCC series
Chris Smiley will compete for BTC Norlin Racing in the 2017 BTCC series

Carrickfergus driver Chris Smiley has announced his return to the British Touring Car Championship next year.

Smiley has signed for BTC Norlin Racing, who will join the BTCC grid with two Chevrolet Cruze cars.

He ran with Team HARD in the BTCC for the first half of 2016 before switching to the Renault Clio Cup support series for the rest of the year.

Smiley said: "For me, this is the start of my BTCC career - I didn't get enough running this year to learn anything."

Former MINI Challenge champion Smiley competed with Team HARD for the first five races this season, but decided to split with the team after a troubled start to the year where he had a best result of 16th.

A move to the Clio Cup proved more fruitful, where the 24-year-old ran consistently near the front of the field.

Chris Smiley is relishing his comeback to the British Touring Car Championship
Chris Smiley is relishing his comeback to the British Touring Car Championship

"I am starting afresh and I will be able to properly attack the championship in 2017," he added.

"We want to be in the top 10 right from the start and there is no reason we shouldn't be expecting podiums and strong results from reversed-grid races over the latter part of the year.

"I am very excited to be part of the first Northern Irish owned team in the BTCC.

"The last few months have been very busy but the hard work has paid off and I can't thank everyone enough for standing by me and giving me the chance to compete in the BTCC again."

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