Josh and Chris Bag a Podium Each for BTC Racing at Croft
Tuesday, 18 June 2019 | Ravenol Marketing
Our Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship partners BTC Racing had another successful outing at Croft, this time coming home with 2 podium finishes – one a piece for Chris and Josh.
Having endured mixed fortunes in the opening rounds of the year, it was Northern Irishman Chris Smiley heading the team’s challenge as he put his Honda Civic Type R on the front row of the grid, with Josh lining up in twelfth after a difficult Saturday.
The opening race of the weekend on Sunday morning saw Chris fight hard to secure his first podium with the new FK8 Honda, maintaining his second place from lights-to-flag behind the rapid BMW of Andrew Jordan.
Josh meanwhile was able to battle his way forwards into the top ten, emerging on top of a fight with Matt Neal and Tom Ingram to snare ninth spot.
With extra ballast on his car in race two, Chris faced more of a challenge to fight at the front but drove well in the early stages to fend off quicker and lighter cars behind.
Despite slipping back to fifth, he was still in line for a strong points haul until the final lap when contact from Ash Sutton’s Subaru going through the Complex forced him off onto the grass, dropping down to 27th spot by the time he was able to rejoin.
Despite struggling for speed through the fastest part of the lap, Josh went one better than his result in race one to secure eighth place, which put him on the front row of the grid for race three thanks to the reverse grid draw.
Rain ahead of that final race meant a decision had to be taken on tyres, with Josh sticking with wet tyres alongside the majority of the front-runners.
Although still down on speed in sector two, he was able to keep up with race leader Tom Chilton throughout and saw off the challenge from Jason Plato behind for his fourth podium of the season – ensuring he leaves Croft second in the standings and at the head of the Independents Trophy.
From his position at the back of the grid, Chris elected to gamble on dry tyres but the circuit failed to dry and quickly as he hoped, meaning he ended the race outside the points scoring positions. Chris now sits 15th in the championship standings and ninth in the Independents Trophy.
We caught up with the drivers after the race to hear what they had to say:
“We knew we had to play the long game after qualifying and race one was tough because of the weight we had to carry and the mud that was being splattered everywhere,” Josh said.
“In race two and three we had to deal with a bit of an engine issue that was affecting us in sector two and the run out of Tower and considering all that, it’s good to come away from the weekend with a podium finish.
“It means we maintain our record our scoring a top three finish at every round so far and have to keep picking up the points and focus on the championship.”
Chris meanwhile did not feel like he’d had a good weekend after the Race 2 incident:
“We haven’t taken as much from this weekend as we should have done after race one, which is a real shame,” he said. “It was good to get on the podium in at the start of race day and the car felt really strong, and we weren’t a million miles off in race two even with the weight on.
“Unfortunately, what happened at the end has really hurt us, and the fact that the other driver was given a penalty tells the story – but it doesn’t get us the points back we lost.
“In race three, it was worth a gamble as the track was drying out; I just can’t believe how long it actually took to swing towards the dry tyres. We could have won from there if the gamble had paid off but unfortunately it didn’t.”
So after another successful outing at Croft, BTC Racing now sit third in the overall Teams’ Championship and continue to head the Independent Teams’ Championship. Next up is Oulton at the end of the month – just 2 weeks to wait and then we get to see those exciting Honda Civic Type R’s back in action on the track!