Returning BTCC squad BTC Norlin Racing signs Smiley for 2017

BTC Norlin Racing will rejoin the British Touring Car Championship grid in 2017 with a brace of Chevrolet Cruzes

Returning BTCC squad BTC Norlin Racing signs Smiley for 2017

BTC Racing joined the championship in 2006 after a race-winning pedigree in some of Britain's leading national racing series.

It took a sabbatical in 2015, but has now purchased cars and two TOCA BTCC Licences from Power Maxed Racing to return to the top flight.

The team has recruited Chris Smiley as its first driver, after making 15 BTCC starts this year, with a second due to be announced shortly.

"To get Chris on board is a real coup," BTC Norlin Racing boss Bert Taylor said.

"I worked with Chris at Team Hard this season and saw first-hand what a talent he is.

"He is utterly focused on his career and is dedicated to winning, which is the same passion that we have as a team.

"We have expanded the backroom staff at BTC Norlin Racing and have brought in expertise.

"We have taken on staff that have worked with the likes of RML and Triple Eight, so we feel confident we can move forward.

"We have chosen to run with the Chevrolets initially because it is a car we know well, and we have run them before.

"In the longer term, our plan is to become a constructor in our own right, and that is the aim for 2018."

Its 2017 cars are currently being prepared at BTC Norlin Racing's Bicester base, and Smiley has already tested the first Cruze at Donington Park.

The 24-year-old will be returning to the championship after a part-season at the wheel of a Toyota Avensis in 2016.

He stopped the programme halfway through the year after a troubled start. "This is the start of my BTCC career," the former Mini Challenge champion said.

"I didn't really get enough running this year to learn anything, so I am starting afresh. I will be able to properly attack the championship in 2017.

"We want to be solidly in the top 10 to start with and build from there.

"There is no reason we shouldn't be expecting podiums and strong results from reversed-grid races over the latter part of the year."

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