Restart Racing celebrates significant progress at Oulton Park

28th June 2024

Restart Racing made solid progress in its Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship campaign with a memorable performance at Oulton Park.

The team, now half way through its debut season, secured top ten finishes for the first time with both cars seeing the chequered flag in all three races for the first time this season.

Competing in the fifth event of the season under the summer sun at Oulton Park in Chester, Restart Racing tackled the weekend with smart tyre choices across three challenging races.

The weekend was given extra ‘spice’ with a mix of hard and soft tyres being used on race day. Both drivers were left disappointed after qualifying with Chris Smiley starting from 16th and Scott Sumpton from 19th.

The first race of the day saw Smiley making an early gain due to Colin Turkington’s BMW stalling on the grid and Ronan Pearson's Hyundai slow off the line.

Sumpton found himself in strife after a small off onto the grass, leading him to pit due to rising water temperatures from grass caught in his radiator, resulting in him finishing in 19th.

Smiley, battled hard to keep his position, 13th, and managed to stay ahead despite intense pressure. By the final laps, he was one of the fastest on the hard tyres, although a late pass by the recovering Pearson meant he crossed the line in 14th, before a penalty to Dan Rowbottom would give back 13th place to the #222.

Race 2 saw both drivers start solidly, with Smiley narrowly avoiding a spin at turn one, which allowed him to move up to 12th. He then continued his ascent, overtaking Aiden Moffat and Daryl DeLeon to break into the top ten.

His progress didn’t stop there as he passed Dan Rowbottom and Rob Huff using the hybrid boost to climb to seventh before being passed by the recovering Colin Turkington, finishing the race in eighth and claiming the best result of the team so far this season.

Sumpton also made gains, moving up from 19th to finish 14th, securing points after reigning champion Ash Sutton pitted with damage and then on the final lap, passing Sutton's team-mate Sam Osborne into turn one to secure two valuable points.

In Race 3, Smiley maintained his form, starting strong and managing to fend off challenges from behind to remain in the top ten. But, after Ash Sutton retired with accident damage, Smiley was elevated to ninth in the final race of the day. Sumpton had a more challenging race, managing an off-track excursion but still showing improvement in pace over the course of the race and narrowly missed out on a second points finish of the day after finishing in 16th.

Chris Smiley said: “I think it was a positive weekend here at Oulton Park. We clearly qualified out of position; we should have been on the fringes of the top ten, if not in it. In race one, we made good progress on the hard tyre, starting 16th and finishing 13th, putting us on the fringe of the top ten.

"In race two, we got a good start and made our way up. If it hadn't been for the little incident at the start, I think we could have potentially been in the top five. We lost two or three places at turn one due to a bit of a melee with a few other cars, and I had to take evasive action across the grass.

"Race three was another solid result with P9. Our pace really improved this weekend, and I'm really pleased for the team. I'm very thankful to Pete for all his help, and to Ben, my engineer, for all his hard work this weekend. A big thanks to Matt Neal for all the tips; his invaluable wealth of knowledge is greatly appreciated.

"I'm looking forward to a few weeks off and then coming back at Croft to continue where we left off.”

Scott Sumpton said: “It's been a very difficult at Oulton Park, not how I wanted it to go. Although we got P14 in race two, it was a really tricky race weekend. We went on the hards for race one just to get them out of the way, so we didn't get a good result in that one.

"In race two and race three, I made mistakes by myself. Running a little bit wide at the end of the complex before going up the hill, I ended up on the grass and then in the gravel, not ideal.

"However, we keep our heads high. I'm looking forward to the nice five-week break, or however long it is. This break will be a great opportunity to reset. I'm planning to come back strong at Croft, making sure to get in a few laps on the simulator and prepare to smash it at Croft. It's going to go well.”

Ben Taylor, Team Principal, said: “Our weekend at Oulton Park was a mix of challenges and successes. Despite a disappointing qualifying session, the team made significant progress in the races, with strong performances and improved pace. We're proud of the efforts put in by the entire team, particularly the hard work and dedication shown by the guys and girls that have really unlocked the pace in the Cupra this weekend. We look forward to building on this momentum and returning even stronger at Croft."

The 2024 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship action will resume at Croft Circuit on July 27-28. © 2024
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