Round 3 – Snetterton: A Weekend of ‘What Could Have Been’ at Snetterton For Restart Racing

May 28, 2024News, Race Reports

Restart Racing tackled their third race day in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Snetterton with mixed fortunes, after another weekend of challenging weather conditions. Despite setbacks and a couple of ‘what could have been moments’, the team celebrated achieving their best finish yet.

Racing at the Snetterton Circuit in Norwich, the team contended with typical British summer conditions that included drying tracks and a torrential downpour that disrupted Race 2. This was the first weekend teams were required to use all three Goodyear dry tyre compounds, introducing a strategic challenge that led to mixed racing opportunities.

Chris was running as high as 8th before trouble spoiled his day. Photograph: JEP

The weekend began promisingly with Chris Smiley qualifying 11th, the best result for the team so far and the top independent driver. Smiley started on the fast-soft tyres and Sumpton on the mediums on a track that was mostly dry but still damp in spots. Smiley had a strong start, battling with ex-world touring car champion Rob Huff to secure 8th position by the end of the opening lap. Unfortunately, a rare issue with the passenger door opening forced him to pit, dropping him to 18th and costing him a seemingly nailed-on first independent win for the team. Scott Sumpton struggled initially, spinning on a damp patch trying to overtake Nick Halstead but recovered to finish 19th.

After a delay due to torrential rain, the race resumed with most drivers on wet tyres. Smiley, starting on dry mediums and one of only two cars to start on dry’s, initially lost time but began posting faster lap times as the track dried, only for the rain to return, stalling his progress and any chances of a heroic drive through the field. Despite this, he fought hard to finish 13th and secure his first points of the weekend. Sumpton, capitalising on the conditions and tyre strategy, climbed from the back of the field to 11th, securing his and the team’s best finish in the BTCC to date.

The final race saw both drivers start on dry tyres in varying conditions. Smiley’s race ended abruptly due to an accident on the opening lap that caused significant damage to the front left of his car. Sumpton had a quieter race, finishing 17th but learnt valuable lessons about tyre management and using slick tyres on a drying track.

Scott battled hard all day and secured his best BTCC finish in race 2. Photograph: JEP

Overall it was race day that promised so much and whilst the team is happy to have achieved its best finish in the BTCC yet, it could have been even better if lady luck was in the teams side at Snetterton. However, with more learning and seat time for the two drivers, spirits are high as the BTCC visits the fastest circuit on the calendar, Thruxton on 8th/9th of June. 

Chris Smiley said: “So that’s Snetterton done for this year and the weekend started really well in 11th place and just on the fringes of the top 10. In today’s first race, we got away well and were having a great race up in 8th but the passenger side door opened up for some reason. It’s one of those things that never happens and it was highly frustrating to have to come in from that position. We were top independent at the time and looked nailed on to finish there for the first time this season. 

“We gambled with the tyres in race 2 and put on the dry tyres as we were starting near the back and on lap 4 I thought we’d played a blinder and were heading for the podium. But just like that, the rain came back again and that put pay to our chances. I had a great scrap with Rob Huff and just beat him to 13th on the final lap which is no big deal but still more points for me and the team. 

“It was another really good start in race three despite being on the hard tyre but on the exit of the 4th corner, we ended up in the barrier after being collected by one of the others. 

“Just one of those days unfortunately and the only positive really is that we’ve found pace in the car and I’m looking forward to Thruxton.”

Scott Sumpton said: “I said Donington Park was a whirlwind but wow what a whirlwind it’s been today. Race 1 we went on slicks which I think was the right choice but I hit a wet patch just under the bridge whilst making an overtake, lost the rear and had a bit of a spin which put me out of contention early on. 

“We used wets for race 2 and went from the back of the field up to 11th to secure my best finish in the British Touring Cars and I’m over the moon with that, I couldn’t ask for more. 

“We had the soft tyres for the final race of the day and whilst most of the track was dry the final sector was really wet and whilst we didn’t get the result we wanted in that race I think I’ve learnt a lot in myself and how much I can push the car. We’ve learnt lots and I’m going to take everything into Thruxton. The first three rounds have thrown everything at me so I’m learning more and more with every passing weekend!”

Ben Taylor (Team Principle) said: “A weekend of what could have been for Restart Racing this weekend. We’ve had some great pace in the car and I really think we have found something that we will be able to take into the rest of the season. 

“On another day we could have come away with a couple of trophies but it wasn’t meant to be. 

“A big well done to Scott for securing his and the team’s best finish in the BTCC to date with 11th. Onwards to Thruxton!”

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