Restart Racing had a bruising season finale of the 2023 TCR UK championship season at Brands Hatch, despite showing great pace on Saturday, followed by a race-leading performance by 2022 champion Chris Smiley.
The qualifying session was ultra-tight, with Chris setting consistent laps and putting his Honda Civic FL5 just 61-thousandths of a second away from pole position, in fourth place on the grid, while Scott was well-placed to battle for points after qualifying his older Civic FK7 in tenth position.
The mixed weather conditions and the remnant of the UK storms gave way to clear skies on Saturday, and in the afternoon’s first race, things started perfectly, with Chris making a brilliant getaway around the outside into the world-famous Paddock Hill bend to take the lead.
Scott was running competitively in the top ten as well, and the early hope was clearly for Chris to hold on to the lead, and for Scott to secure the reversed grid pole for Race 2.
Sadly the race, and arguably the rest of the day, unravelled on lap 11, as Scott was hit by the car behind him which caused him major damage, and forced him to come into the pit lane to retire.
Scott’s assailant also came into the pits but was able to return to the track, coming out right in front of race-leading Chris, who was held up a result allowing the car behind to get ahead into Druids.
Chris now settled down and was set for a second-place finish until he began to experience a loss of power with five laps to go, and came into the pits to retire.
The cause was down to an electrical issue, which couldn’t be resolved ahead of Race 2, with Chris out of the final round.
The team did a fantastic job to repair Scott’s Civic and get him out for the final race, but it was a very short race for the #27 car.
Three cars collided at the exit of Druids with one of the Audis spinning across the track. Scott had nowhere to go and suffered significant front-end damage to the car, with the race red-flagged but Scott’s car was not able to make the restart.
The team ends a difficult season in the TCR UK championship, but one that also had some great positives, with Scott established as a star of the future, and a resilient performance from Chris despite a number of issues outside of the team and drivers’ control this year.
Restart Racing hopes to end the year on a positive note, with an appearance in the final two races of the TCR Spain championship at Jerez and Barcelona with Scott Sumpton, who will also make his debut in the new Civic FL5.
“It was a challenging weekend, and one that started so well. The car felt great on Saturday – we had great pace in qualifying, just missing out by less than a tenth of a second on pole.
“I had a great start to take the lead, and from there I was controlling the pace to the cars behind, and I was definitely on target for our first win of the year. Unfortunately I lost the lead when (Andy) Wilmot came out of the pit lane right in front of us and straight onto the racing line. While that cost me the lead, it wouldn’t have mattered as I lost power with just a few laps to go and had to retire in any case.
“We couldn’t get the car back out for the final race, so it was definitely a disappointing to end to what’s been a very difficult season – but I can’t fault my team – they’ve worked so hard this year and it was a shame we couldn’t turn it around and get a good result at the last opportunity.”
“The first race was looking to be a half decent race. We were hanging on in tenth position, but it was a shame another driver went for a move that I don’t believe was on and just went into the side of me and that ended my race.
“The second race was a very short race, and there was nothing I could have done. I’m very disappointed with how this weekend has gone, but I just have to look forwards and pick myself up. It’s not the end of the season we wanted in TCR UK, but I’ve got the few races in TCR Spain coming up to look forward to.
“I’ve enjoyed the Civic FK7, it’s been an amazing car – however I’m now also looking forward to saying goodbye to it and moving onto the FL5, which has proved itself in Europe and Italy, so it’ll be great to hop in it and hopefully do some good things.”
Photo credit Phil Laughton Photography.
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.
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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.