Chris Smiley and Restart Racing receive new Civic ahead of Snetterton opener

Apr 6, 2023News

The brand-new Honda Civic Type R FL5 is ready for its global debut at Snetterton after Restart Racing have shaken down the car at Donington Park. Chris Smiley, supported by the team’s new sponsor First Response Finance, are ready for a title defence charge.

Honda Civic Type-R FL5 Restart Racing TCR UK

After a busy pre-season period, the team are ready for the start of the 2023 TCR UK Touring Car Championship this weekend, with the new Honda Civic Type R FL5 TCR ready for action.

The team travelled to Spa-Francorchamps straight after the championship’s Media Day last week to collect the new car following a short shakedown test, bringing it back to the UK where it was wrapped in the fresh new livery before a final test at Donington Park on Wednesday (April 5th).

The car’s new livery now includes the logos and colours of new sponsor First Response Finance, which joins the team in an exciting new partnership as Chris Smiley, who celebrates his 31st birthday today (April 6th), aims to defend his drivers’ championship title.

The Kent-based squad will run a pair of Honda Civics this season, with an older but highly capable FK7 Civic in the hands of new signing Scott Sumpton, while Chris has been entrusted with the international debut of the new FL5 Civic, which hasn’t raced in any other TCR category as yet.

Chris Smiley, #1 Restart Racing Honda Civic Type R FL5 TCR

“Just like last year, it’s been a crazy few weeks just ahead of the season start. Last year, we took delivery of the car just before the first race, and somehow we’ve ended up doing the same again.

“This time, we have the newest touring car in the world at our disposal, which means we know we have a car with fantastic potential, but with that we may need some time to understand it and work through any teething issues.

“So, we’re going in to this weekend aiming high, but we’re aware it’ll be a different year to last year.

“We know the Honda Civic Type R FL5 will be a very capable car, but this year with 23 other drivers on the grid as the TCR UK championship continues to grow, it’s going to be a very intense, and no doubt exciting season.

“We have some fantastic partners on hand though, and we’re welcoming First Response Finance too, an amazing brand to have on board as we fight for the championship.”

Snetterton timetable

Saturday 8th April

10:40 – Free Practice

14:15 – Qualifying

Sunday 9th April

Race 1 – 13:20

Race 2 – 17:20

Qualifying and races broadcast on TCR UK’s YouTube channel and on TCR TV.


Chris Smiley Restart Racing
Honda Civic Type-R FL5 Donington Test
Chris Smiley #1
Honda Civic Type-R FL5 in race truck

All images (prefixed PLP) please credit Phil Laughton Photography.

All images (prefixed PSP) please credit PSP Images.


Restart Racing

Restart Racing has prepared, raced, and won at some of the most famous race circuits in the world. The team has built up a wealth of experience in the motorsport industry and made it its business to consistently build and run race-winning cars.

Over the years the team has run cars by manufacturers such as Honda, TVR, BMW, Chevrolet, Vauxhall, Porsche, Hyundai and Volkswagen in the BTCC, GT3 sports car series, and Hot Rods.

In 2022, our Essex-based professional team competed in the hard-fought TCR UK Touring Car Championship with Chris Smiley at the wheel, pitted against a total of 16 other teams. Having collected our race car from Honda’s specialist preparation company in Italy only days before the start of the season, Chris went on to secure pole position and win the first race at Oulton Park, and would go on to win the championship at Snetterton at the final round.

It turned out to be a great season of racing at some of the UK’s premier circuits, culminating in the team being chosen to represent the UK at the prestigious FIA Motorsport Games at the Paul Ricard circuit in France, where Chris Smiley finished in eighth position against competitors from around the world.


First Response Finance

Founded in 1998, First Response Finance is a leading UK vehicle finance company, with offices in Nottingham, Leigh, and Glasgow. Offering Hire Purchase for cars, vans and motorbikes.

The company philosophy is ‘People, Service, Profit’, which is at the core of everything they do. The company is a people centric business with a team of over 300 highly skilled employees, sharing the same values, so they can deliver the best possible service to their customers.

First Response Finance provide credit solutions for its customers, while creating an extremely positive and trust-based working environment for its employees.

Their unique way of thinking and customer service has seen First Response Finance rated (4.9/5) as the UK’s number one motor finance lender on the Review Centre website.

First Response Finance are also highly rated (4.9/5) by its clients for “Customer Experience” on the feefo reviews website.


Launched in 2018, the TCR UK championship is one of the UK’s most exciting new categories. Utilising the highly-successful TCR technical regulations, of which more than 1,000 cars have been built, the TCR UK championship is going from strength-to-strength, with free-to-air online broadcasting, manufacturer-supported customer racing programmes, and most of all, thrilling, door-to-door, classic touring car racing.


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