Can BTC Racing's Budding Bromance Survive BTCC Opener at Brands?

5 April 2019  |  Ravenol Marketing

This weekend is the 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship’s opening round at Brands Hatch. Our BTCC Technical Partners BTC Racing are back this season with a new name, a new car and a new driver. Can existing driver Chris Smiley’s ‘tried and tested’ talent make an impact in this new look BTC Racing team? And how will he get on with new team mate Josh Cook?

The British Touring Car Championship is heading to Brands Hatch for round one of the 2019 season, and all talk is on the changes which have been brought in over the winter. As well as minor changes to the red flags and strikes system, there are major changes to success ballast – which has been slashed from 75kg to a maximum of 54 kg. There are also changes to the Option tyres to be used at each circuit.

It’s also all change down at our BTCC Technical Partners, BTC Racing. For 2019, the team is running the FK8 Honda Civic Type R, which has a longer wheel base compared to last season’s FK2 and is complete with factory works Honda derived engines.

The team retains driver Chris Smiley for the 2019 season. This will be Chris’s third full season in the BTCC and he’s hoping to capitalise on a successful 2018 campaign which included his first BTCC podium at Donington Park, and his first BTCC race win at Rockingham. The popular Northern Irishman finished 13th in the Drivers’ Championship, sixth in the Independent Drivers’ Championship and second in the Jack Sears Trophy. With the new look BTC Racing team behind him, Chris is feeling positive about the new car and his chances for this year’s Championship.

“The car felt really good for our first run,” he said. “We’re extremely happy with where we are with it [despite] the limited runs we’ve done.

“You don’t really know where you are until everyone’s on the same set of tyres and everyone’s on the same weight. It’s definitely looking very, very positive.”

Alongside Chris Smiley is new driver Josh Cook – a BTCC race winner and former Jack Sears Trophy champion. Brands will be Josh’s first race in the Honda Civic Type R, but he performed well in testing and is hoping to make a big impact on the championship.

“This is a really exciting opportunity for me as there is huge potential for us to get some great results for BTC Racing in 2019 and beyond,” Josh said when he joined the team. “The Honda Civic is a car that I’ve wanted to race for some time and BTC Racing is undeniably a team that has made an impressive entry to the BTCC in the last two years.

So far the new driver combo seem to be getting on like a car on fire. They’re a similar age, have the same sense of humour, and according to Chris, even a similar driving style. But will this budding ‘bromance’ in the garage lead to some good times on track for BTC Racing, or just a headache for Team Manager Zoe Timbrell? Chris is confident it’s going to be great for the team.

“Me and Josh get on well. I think that’s very important, to get on with your teammate,” he confirmed. “[We’re] both very lucky to be involved with this team and be involved with these new cars. We’ve grabbed the opportunity with both hands and we know that if we work hard together we’re going to take the car to that next level.”

We wish Chris, Josh and the rest of BTC Racing all the best for the opening round at Brands on Sunday the 7th April. Fans can view the coverage live on ITV 4 from 10:15 through to 18:15.

Boys behaving badly - Chris and Josh appear to have hit it off right away