What started out as a foggy morning at Thruxton Circuit, soon turned into a warm summers day as the grid assembled for rounds 7, 8 and 9 at the fastest circuit on the calendar.
Chris Smiley started race one in 9th, following a time penalty that was awarded to Tom Ingram on Saturday evening for a track limits infringement during qualifying. Smiley got off to a great start and had moved into 8th by lap 4. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to shake Eurotech’s Brett Smith, who took the place back by lap 7. An error by Smiley cost him 9th in the penultimate lap, and he took the chequered flag in 10th, achieving his objective of finishing in the top 10.
Following a frustrating day on Saturday, James Nash started race one 22nd on the grid. Having not found the sweet spot yesterday, the team tried something different on the car. Unfortunately, on this occasion it didn’t improve the feeling in the car, and James crossed the line in 23rd.
Chris started race two 10th on the grid, and was again keen to make progress through the pack. Another good start saw him complete lap one in 9th and lap two in 8th. On lap seven, an incident with Adam Morgan saw Chris drop back to 9th. He was then passed by the charging Type R of Jack Goff and eventually finished the race in 10th place. This was another great points finish for Chris, putting him in a strong position for the final race of the day and now currently in the lead for the Jack Sears Trophy.
Race two was another challenging drive for James, who had not been able to find a comfortable setup for the car. He started race two 23rd on the grid and lost few places at the start of the race, dropping to 27th. He set about picking his way back through the grid to cross the line in 21st, whilst nursing a very warm engine in the final laps.
Chris started 9th on the grid for race three, following the withdrawal of Andrew Jordan on medical grounds. The team at BTC Norlin Racing would like to wish him a speedy recovery!
Another good start resulted in Chris completing the first lap in 8th, and held off Matt Simpson for 9 laps, until a charging Tom Ingram approached. After a back and forth battle for two laps, Tom passed Chris with 5 laps to go, and Chris crossed the finish line in 9th. Smiley claimed the Jack Sears honours for the day which put him first in the Trophy hunt, ahead of Dan Cammish by 4 points.
“It was a solid day at Thruxton Race Circuit” said Smiley. “I’m very happy with three top ten finishes and the lead in the Jack Sears Trophy! We missed the official test at Thruxton last month, so I couldn’t have done much more. I’m really looking forward to Oulton Park in three weeks time!”
Still struggling with setup, James started the final race of the day in 20th. After getting tangled in some first lap activity, he dropped to 22nd having sustained damage. From this point, the objective was to nurse the car home, and finish the race. He managed to cross the line in 23rd, rounding off a tough weekend.
“I would though like to thank Dunlop for making such robust tyres.” said Nash after bringing the car home in the final race of the day. “I had a vibration to manage in race three after the opening lap clash but I had absolutely no idea that one of the rear wheels had been smashed. How the tyre stayed on for the next 15 laps when we were pushing 130mph through Church Corner I’ll never know but I am very grateful that it did!”
“It was a very frustrating weekend for me, but I am looking forward to working through the problems so that we can bring a better package to Oulton Park in three weeks time”.
Team manager Bert Taylor added “That was quite a weekend! I am really pleased that Chris managed to get three top ten finishes, as well as winning the Jack Sears Trophy, he has proved that he belongs at the sharp end of the grid. He is now leading the Jack Sears Trophy, and achieving a solid points finish for each race is exactly what we hoped for this weekend.
“James has had a challenging weekend, but I am confident he will bounce back for Oulton Park. As I have said before, we are an ambitious team, and will be working to ensure that Oulton provides us with further steps forward.”
Photography: Phil Laughton