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I hope Turkington wins but no old pals act, says Smiley



Colin Turkington

Colin Turkington

Colin Turkington

Chris Smiley says he will be rooting for Colin Turkington from his ringside seat as the British Touring Car Championship comes down to a shoot-out in the final three races at Brands Hatch this weekend.

But he warned: "It is a toss up; it could go either way for Colin. There are no guarantees in this Championship."

Smiley will be on the grid in his Exceler8 Motorsport Hyundai as fellow Ulsterman Turkington bids to become the most successful driver of all time in the BTCC with a record fifth title. He currently leads the series again but has only a nine-point advantage over former champion Ash Sutton, courtesy of his latest victories at Snetterton.

"Nine points is nothing; not when there are 25 as well as more for pole and fastest laps at stake. That gap can be wiped out with one bad call or one bad move by either of them and that could bring drivers like Dan Cammish or Tom Ingram into play," said the 28-year-old from Ballycarry.

"I would love to see Colin win it but I don't know how it will play out. For sure, he and the West Surrey BMW team have the complete package - the experience, the know-how and the car to do it as they have proved over the years.

"But, believe me, nothing is certain in the BTCC. His lead could be wiped out in a flash through no fault of his own. Things happen and it will be fascinating to watch it unfold, maybe even play a part in it."

And Smiley, ninth in the Independent Drivers' Championship with the all-new Hyundai i30N, says Turkington can't expect any favours from him.

"I won't be making it easy for him if we are racing together. Nothing personal. I have my job to do for my team and I will be racing as hard as I can against Colin and everyone else. He knows that," he said.

It hasn't been an easy year for Smiley, a race winner at Rockingham before he joined Exceler8 Motorsport from BTC Racing at the beginning of the season. Along with team-mate Senna Proctor, he has been struggling to get the Hyundai up to speed.

"The potential is there but with the races coming thick and fast and virtually no testing it has been tough turning up at the circuits on Saturday mornings and trying to get the car dialled into tracks where it has never raced before," he said.

"With the races so late in the year, and the temperatures so low, the previous data the team had has been irrelevant. It means were are just that wee bit off - and a wee bit off in the BTCC makes a big difference," added Smiley, whose best result this season has been a second place at Donington.

Sunday's races are live on ITV4 from 9.30am.

Belfast Telegraph