Team Hard signs rookie Chris Smiley for 2016 BTCC season

Team Hard has signed 2013 Mini Challenge champion Chris Smiley for this year's British Touring Car Championship and expects regular top 10 finishes

Team Hard signs rookie Chris Smiley for 2016 BTCC season

Northern Irishman Smiley, who was a race-winner in the DTM-supporting Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup in 2014, will drive the squad's updated Toyota Avensis, which features a new lighter weight chassis.

Team principal Tony Gilham said: "We have followed Chris's progress closely, and everyone who has worked with him knows he is a talent.

"The BTCC is very competitive and we know that, but there is no reason we can't regularly be in the points. That has to be our target for the season."

Smiley previously tested a Triple Eight Racing MG as his prize for winning the Mini Challenge and is looking forward to the progression.

"The NGTC cars aren't hugely different to the Minis or the Scirocco," he said.

"They're both turbocharged and front-wheel drive, but the touring car is weighted very differently and the suspension behaves much differently as they aren't production cars so they feel more racey.

"I also have to learn about the tyres because this will be the first time I've raced in a series with two different tyre compounds.

"It all adds to the challenge but I can't wait to get going."

Team Hard has also bought two Ginetta G55s to run in the GT4 division of the British GT Championship this season. It will operate the cars alongside 14 Volkswagen Racing Cup machines.

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