BTC Norlin Racing have announced that they will be returning to the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship in 2017.
The team, who last competed in the BTCC back in 2014, will run a pair of Chevrolet Cruze’s next season after taking a year out of the Championship.
The team has a multi-year deal with a leading hotel development company, Norlin, and has recruited Chris Smiley as its first driver.
BTC Norlin Racing boss Bert Taylor said: “We are delighted to announce this partnership with Norlin and to get Chris on board is a real coup.
“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.”
BTC Racing joined the British Touring Car 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.
“We have chosen to run with the Chevrolets initially because it is a car we know well, and we have run them before,” added Taylor. “In the longer term, our plan is to become a constructor in our own right, and that is the aim for 2018.”
Chris Smiley returns to the BTCC after a part season with Team HARD in 2016. Smiley has already tested the Chevrolet Cruze and is looking forward to returning to the series next year.
“For me, this is the start of my BTCC career. 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.
“I am grateful for the people who have stood by me – and the guys at Norlin have been so enthusiastic. They are family friends and we have been able to put together a team of highly talented people behind us. I really can’t wait to get started.
“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.”
The Chevrolet’s were used as a test bed in 2016 for the 2017 TOCA Power unit and there were impressive performances for both Hunter Abbott and Kelvin Fletcher, who drove the NGTC cars for Power Maxed Racing.
BTC Norlin Racing have confirmed that their second driver is due to be announced shortly.