Croft frustration for Michael Crees with two enforced retirements
Strong race one drive to fifth in Independents the weekend highlight
Contact in race two, puncture in race three spoils hopes of progress
Five-week break now for BTCC ahead of visit to Knockhill in Scotland
Kent racing driver Michael Crees encountered more than his share of misfortune at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire over the weekend, 25th/26th June, as the first half of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season reached its conclusion.
Battling through to a strong fifth place finish in the Independents Trophy, 16th position overall, in round 13 on Sunday after a luckless car problem in qualifying led to a 21st place starting slot, hopes of making continued progress in races two and three were frustratingly dashed.
Although faced with difficulties from the get-go this weekend, the Broadstairs driver and his CarStore Power Maxed Racing team worked hard throughout the fifth event of the BTCC season to iron out issues and improve the performance and competitiveness of the No.777 Vauxhall Astra.
With a summer break now beginning before the championship resumes at Knockhill in Scotland at the end of July, Glencar Construction, Geberit, DDS Group, PCS, Fire Control Services, CTD, Blue Rock Systems, Aquadart and BITA supported driver Creesy says he and the team will be regrouping over the next five weeks to come out firing on all cylinders when the BTCC arrives north of the border.
Determined Creesy battles as hard as ever in fifth event of season
Making excellent progress between the two practice periods on Saturday, slicing 0.7 seconds off his times, Creesy set things up nicely for qualifying. Beginning with two red flag stoppages early on, the session then ended with a third red flag with less than a minute to go and Creesy was unfortunately the cause when his car ground to a halt. As a result, his best lap time was expunged.
Starting round 13 from 21st place, the Astra racer moved up four positions before a Safety Car period on lap three. Racing got back underway on the seventh tour and Creesy remained in 17th position up to a second Safety Car intervention on lap 14. After the resumption, he gained a further place when Ricky Collard was forced to pit his Toyota and duly ended the race 16th and fifth in class.
From the eighth row of the grid in round 14, Creesy moved up into the top 15 early on and was determined to make more progress through the outright points positions. On lap three, though, contact from the Honda Civic of Gordon Shedden resulted in the front-right suspension on the Astra breaking – triggering retirement.
Having to start round 15 from the back of the grid in 28th place, due to the race two dramas, Creesy aimed to go out on a high but a front-right puncture early on ended those hopes. After pitting to have the wheel replaced, he rejoined the encounter and lapped strongly but a high-speed moment at Barcroft on lap 11 led to a return to the pits and another retirement.
“It’s been a really challenging weekend to be fair, we came here and had a few problems with the car – some problems out of the team's control – and so we started off on the backfoot again. In qualifying, unfortunately one of the nuts came loose on the kill switch which caused the car to stop and the red flag, so they took my best time away as a result.
“Starting 21st for race one, I made a good start to the racing by finishing P16 – I was quite happy with that. We struggled a bit with the engine compared to those around me, we didn’t have the pace to go forward on the straights, so just capitalised on the corners. Race two was short-lived, [Gordon] Shedden came down the inside and we touched, it snapped the suspension. The team fixed the car for race three, the boys and girls worked so hard all weekend, but then we had more dramas in race three! It’s not been the weekend we wanted, but we’ll all regroup now for Knockhill.”
Fife’s Knockhill Circuit will host the sixth race meeting of the BTCC season, rounds 16, 17 and 18, over the weekend 30th/31st July.
2022 BTCC Independents Trophy Standings
9th Michael Crees, 120pts
2022 BTCC Drivers Championship
19th Michael Crees, 27pts