Smiley seeks BTCC 2022 seat as Butel confirmed in Hyundai

Smiley has been part of the Excelr8 line-up since the Suffolk squad’s switch to the Hyundai i30 N in 2020, and had been in contention to remain part of its four-car line-up this year.

Butel scored three points finishes with Excelr8 in his BTCC sophomore season in 2021, and the 25-year-old Jerseyman has completed a late deal to stay on at the team, alongside Tom Ingram, Tom Chilton and Dan Lloyd.

Smiley’s long-time friend and helper Bert Taylor, who founded the BTC squad with which the Northern Irishman scored his sole BTCC race victory in 2018, has been attempting to re-enter the series with Smiley as driver under the banner of Restart Racing.

Taylor relinquished control of BTC to current owner Steve Dudman, and then split with the team at the end of the 2020 season.

But attempts to acquire a TOCA TBL entrants’ license did not reach fruition, despite it being likely that at least one of the three loaned by TOCA for the 2022 campaign will not be used.

Taylor is now hoping to get Smiley in at one of the few remaining seats for the coming campaign.

“We’ve been trying to get a license from one of the teams that’s not using one,” Taylor told Autosport. “Hopefully something will be sorted [regarding a seat for Smiley] in the next week.”

Butel hopes to build on the progress he made in 2021, when he missed the final round due to sustaining concussion in a crash in the penultimate event at Donington Park.

Jack Butel, Excelr8 Trade Price Cars Hyundai i30 Fastback N Performance

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

“After joining the team last year, I made huge steps forwards so it’s fantastic to now have the opportunity to build on everything I was able to learn in 2021,” he said.

“The fact that I know the car and the team – and they know me – is something that can only be beneficial, and I feel confident going into the new season as I aim to fight for the Jack Sears Trophy title.

“Having three amazing team-mates in Tom Ingram, Tom Chilton and Dan Lloyd means I will have a wealth of experience alongside me in the garage and that can only help me in my pray for silverware this season.”

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Excelr8 owner Justina Williams added: “At times he was on a par with Tom [Ingram] pace-wise which is no mean feat, so I think Jack can go into the new season feeling confident about what he can achieve this year.

“The Jack Sears Trophy is clearly something that we’ll be working towards, but I also think he can expect to challenge for points finishes on a more regular basis during the year ahead.”

2022 BTCC driver lineup so far

West Surrey Racing BMW: Colin Turkington, Jake Hill, Stephen Jelley
BTC Racing Honda: TBA, TBA, TBA, TBA
Excelr8 Motorsport Hyundai: Tom Ingram, Dan Lloyd, Tom Chilton, Jack Butel
Motorbase Performance Ford: Ash Sutton, Dan Cammish, Ollie Jackson, Sam Osborne
Team Dynamics Honda: Gordon Shedden, Dan Rowbottom, TBA
Speedworks Motorsport Toyota: Rory Butcher, TBA, TBA
Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall: Michael Crees, TBA
Ciceley Motorsport BMW: Adam Morgan, George Gamble
Laser Tools Racing/Team Hard Infiniti: Aiden Moffat, Dexter Patterson, Rick Parfitt
Team Hard Cupra: Jack Goff, Aron Taylor-Smith, Bobby Thompson, TBA

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