Gavin Smith is to make a return to the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship for the remainder of the season, with the Irish driver securing a seat with GR Asia for the events at Brands Hatch, Knockhill and Thruxton.

Smith will be at the wheel of the 2007-specification SEAT Leon raced in the WTCC this season by fellow Irish driver Emmet O'Brien as he makes his return to the BTCC.

Having found himself without a drive with VX Racing for the new season when Vauxhall elected to trim its BTCC effort from three cars to two, Smith was linked to a number of drives but admitted he had wanted the right package before committing himself to anyone - a package he has now been offered by the WTCC Independents' title holders.

"When I knew I wouldn't be with VXR for 2007, then getting into a car without the right funding or technical input wouldn't have done me any good," the 29-year-old said. "But then I got a call a couple of weeks back from the GR boss Paul Ridgeway who said an opportunity had come up.

"I strongly believe that everyone in the team is going to put a lot of effort into making this work. It's a chance definitely worth taking."

Smith will line up on the grid alongside Adam Jones, who will continue to run his Toledo under the Team Aircool banner.

The team-name Smith will run under hasn't yet been confirmed, but team boss Paul Ridgeway said he was pleased to get the chance to run a second car as he looks towards a possible full season for his team in the BTCC in the future.

"It would be silly not to fully use our experience of running Super 2000-spec cars, such as the Leon, and I want GR to run sister WTCC and BTCC projects and to be very competitive in both," he said. "Gavin's arrival may be a bit of a start for that.

"This is the first opportunity, due to the logistics of also running in the World series, that we've been able to get this car out in the BTCC. The car is updated to 2007 specification so is more or less identical to the factory Leons of Plato and Turner. Gavin has a very strong track record and I'm sure, even though he's not raced since last year, that he'll be quickly back on the pace."

Ridgeway added that the addition of Smith to the line-up will also help the impressive Jones on his return to the series, with the Toledo having missed the last round at Snetterton due to GR Asia's WTCC commitments.

"His inclusion will also be good for Adam who's obviously been a star this season," he said. "Now he has a rapid team-mate to push him even further and we've got two cars to compare data - I know they are different models, but the principles of front-wheel drive cars and going motor racing are the same."