Championship-best result for Scott Sumpton as Chris Smiley shines in the rain

Sep 15, 2023Race Reports

Scott Sumpton secured his TCR UK career-best result in Race 2 at Donington Park this weekend, driving his Honda Civic Type R FK7 TCR to fifth in difficult conditions as the rain arrived just ahead of the final race, while Chris put on an exceptional performance to finish second on the road before losing the position due to a technicality.
Restart Racing Donington 2023
Following challenges with Chris Smiley’s Civic FL5 TCR in recent rounds, in a two-day test ahead of the weekend, Restart Racing was joined by TCR World Tour driver Néstor Girolami, who split running with Chris and Scott during the test with all drivers setting comparable lap times, affirming that there’s no technical issue with car.

In qualifying, Chris qualified in seventh place and Scott 12th, promoted to sixth and 11th following grid penalties applied to rivals for infractions in the previous race at Silverstone (including for the driver who knocked Scott out from the race lead).

It was a good qualifying result, but more was certainly hoped for especially from the newer Civic after the test.

On race day, in the first race Chris made a great start and manoeuvred his way up to fourth in the early running, but his race began to fall away from there, as he had no pace to fight back against the charging out of position cars who were just able to power past Chris’ Civic.

Scott meanwhile put on an fantastic performance to fight his way to tenth place, then switching to have to defend the spot until the final lap, securing the crucial reversed grid pole position for Race 2.

The rain arrived just ahead of Race 2, with the whole field opting to start on the Goodyear wet tyre. At the start, Scott lost the lead and fell behind Chris to third by Redgate.

Chris was able to manage the tyres and hold on to finish second in the race, the performance deficit of his car not so apparent in the trickier conditions.

Scott fought hard and had great pace, just dropping a few spots to some of the series’ front-runners and was classified fifth in the final order, his best result in the championship to-date.

Unfortunately, in post-race scrutineering, both the initial race winner and Chris’ cars were both found to be a fraction under the minimum ride height, so Chris was excluded from the final results.

Notwithstanding this, the team is concerned about the lack of performance particularly seen in Race 1 of the Civic FL5, especially with the car’s handling validated by Girolami, a race winner two weeks’ ago with the car – and so are looking for answers to as to why their car clearly is lacking straight-line speed against the rest of the field.

The team is however buoyed on by the incredible results achieved by Scott in only his second season of top-level tin-top racing, and are delighted with the progress made with the #27 car – but the team and Chris are at a loss to understand the troubles they’re experiencing this year, and have just one more race left in which to find the answers.

The championship finale takes place at the Indy layout at Brands Hatch on October 21-22.

Chris Smiley Restart Racing 2023
Chris Smiley, #1 Restart Racing Honda Civic Type R FL5 TCR

“This was a difficult weekend, even though we appeared to have made some steps forward. To be fighting to even hold on to seventh isn’t where we should be, and it was plain to see that our car had no pace to get the results we should be getting in the dry conditions.

“Our pace in Race 2 was better because of the rain, so it was good to have had a bit of luck, but cars carrying 20-40kg more weight than us in compensation just drove away in both races, and it just doesn’t make sense.

“The team’s working tirelessly and it’s upsetting that we’re not able to get the results that we deserve, and the ones we know this car should be capable of.”

Scott Sumpton - Restart Racing 2023
Scott Sumpton, #27 Restart Racing Honda Civic Type R FK7 TCR

“I’m really happy with our results this weekend – I’d be even happier if we could have got on the podium, but I’m feeling more confident now that I’ve ever done, and we just need to keep going in the right direction. We know we’ve got the car underneath us now.

“I think if it rained a little more we could have stayed further up the order, and maybe even got that first podium, but as it started to dry out the tyres were working harder, and we’re carrying 40kg compensation weight which I think also affected me in the latter part of the race.

“It was amazing also to have a driver on hand in ‘Bebu’ Girolami and for him get in my car and lend us his experience. I’m really thankful to JAS Motorsport and to be in their Driver Development Programme, as it’s giving us great opportunities to grow even further.


Scott Sumpton Donington 2023
Scott Sumpton Restart Racing
Chris Smiley Donington 2023
Chris Smiley Restart Racing

Photo credit Phil Laughton Photography.


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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