Round 4 – Thruxton: Restart Racing Navigates Thruxton’s High-Speed Challenges

Jun 11, 2024News, Race Reports

Restart Racing faced its first-ever visit to the high-speed Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire, contending with its unique demands during the fourth race day of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship. The weekend’s racing was exclusively on the hard tyre, challenging the team’s adaptability and strategic planning under the relentless summer sun.

Thruxton, known for being the fastest circuit in the UK, presented a new set of challenges for the team, particularly for Scott Sumpton, who had never driven the circuit before. The team’s initial qualifying saw Chris Smiley start 17th and Scott Sumpton 18th, setting the stage for a weekend of learning and progression.

Smiley battled to score some points in race 3. Photograph: JEP

The opening race of the day began with Smiley making early gains, moving up to 16th after an incident involving Andrew Watson. However, he later dropped back to 17th, battling throughout the race to maintain position. Meanwhile, Sumpton encountered trouble after colliding with a tyre stack displaced by Watson’s Toyota, which ultimately led to him retiring the car.

In race 2, the drivers held their initial positions at the start, with Sumpton making early advances. He moved up to 18th, showing an improved pace around the fast Thruxton circuit. Smiley executed a brilliant pass using hybrid power to overtake Daryl DeLeon into the final chicane on his way to 16th and narrowly missing out on some points.

It was a difficult afternoon for the Restart duo after a promising Snetterton. Photograph: JEP

The final race saw Smiley making an aggressive start, moving up to 14th and into the points. However, throughout the race, his position would fluctuate due to the closely-knit pack he found himself in. At the flag, the team saw him finishing 14th with Aiden Moffat’s factory Toyota in hot pursuit right behind him. Sumpton also showed resilience, recovering from 17th to 16th by the end of the race after the safety car intervention extended the race duration.

Team Comments:
Chris Smiley shared his reflections on the weekend: “That’s Thruxton over and done with, and I’m pleased to get three finishes. It was a big learning curve coming back here again after two years away and the first time racing here with the hybrid. The balance of the car shifted quite a lot, so we spent most of the weekend adapting the car to suit. In race 1 this morning we finished 17th, in race 2 16th and in race 3 14th, so we made a bit of progress through today but obviously not as much as we would have liked. All in all, a weekend where we have worked hard and got closer to the front near the end. We’re looking forward to Oulton Park in a few weeks. I think what we’ve been working on with the car should work there so we are looking forward to it!”

Scott Sumpton was in a reflective mood: “It’s a very tricky day at Thruxton for round 4 of the British Touring Car Championship. To put it into very short words, this track is very, very fast. It’s fast, ballsy and you are hanging on for a lot of the lap.

“In race 1 we retired sadly after hitting a tyre stack that was dragged onto the lap, I just didn’t have time to react and get out of the way sadly as I clipped the front left of the car.

“Race 2 went well, we progressed with the car but in race 3 the car felt really good and I was getting racy, battling with Chris. After the safety car, I made a mistake and had a spin as I was pushing too hard on the cold rears which was disappointing, but we still came away with 16th.

“I was gutted not to get 15th and that vital point but I’m looking forward to Oulton Park in two weeks’ time and we’ll be giving it our all.”

Team Principal Insights:
Ben Taylor summarised the weekend with a forward-looking perspective: “I’d say Thruxton has been our trickiest weekend in the BTCC to date but one that all of the team here have really learnt from. As a team, we’ve not visited Thruxton before so I’m proud of the progress we made through the weekend. In race 3 we made some good strides with the car and were rewarded with some points.

“We’re looking forward to Oulton Park where I think the car will be much stronger!”

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