Michael Crees charges to top three Independents Trophy finish in Rd9
Impressive career-best overall P8 for Creesy at BTCC’s fastest track
Vauxhall Astra racer makes good progress during third event of season
Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship racer Michael Crees made a very welcome first visit of the season to the Independents Trophy podium at Thruxton Circuit on Sunday, 29th May, with a terrific top three finish in round nine – also marking a career-best overall BTCC finish of eighth position.
Battling back well from electrical issues in practice and a misfire in qualifying which stymied his true pace around the 2.36-mile Hampshire track, Broadstairs driver ‘Creesy’ progressed from 19th on the grid into 13th overall in race one, round seven, and also fifth in the Independents.
Finishing in the Independents Trophy top five in round eight, 12th position overall, the weekend finale was the undoubted highlight with a tremendously competitive drive in his CarStore Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra.
Lapping with pace a match for the overall podium contenders, and less than 0.2 seconds shy of the fastest lap of the race, the Glencar Construction, Geberit, DDS Group, PCS, Fire Control Services, CTD, Blue Rock Systems, Aquadart and BITA backed racer departed Thruxton very happy with the steps made and is now eyeing continued progress at Oulton Park in Cheshire a fortnight from now.
Fan-favourite BTCC racer celebrates first silverware of 2022
Electrical issues linked to the engine prevented Crees from running in the opening free practice on Saturday morning, so he was immediately placed on the back-foot. Performing well in the subsequent practice session, just over a second shy of the outright pace, in qualifying a misfire hampered his efforts and he had to settle for 19th on the grid – eighth of the Independents runners.
After losing a little bit of ground early on, Creesy was up into 18th position by mid-distance in round seven on Sunday but it was during the closing stages when the race really started to come alive for the Vauxhall Astra driver. Into the top 15 with three laps to go, on the 16th and final tour he grabbed two more positions to end the race 13th overall and fifth in the Independents Trophy.
From the seventh row of the grid in round eight, Creesy was shuffled back to 15th place on the first lap but chipped away over the first half of the encounter to move back up into 13th spot. Passing Bobby Thompson on lap nine to break into the top 12, he then pressured team-mate Ash Hand and both Vauxhalls moved ahead of Rory Butcher’s Toyota on lap 13 – Crees now in 11th place.
Challenging the sister car at the impossibly fast Church corner, Creesy’s efforts weren’t rewarded when Butcher was able to slingshot back ahead. Ending the lap in 12th place, Creesy continued to pressure and managed to get ahead of the Toyota on the final tour but the Honda Civic of Gordon Shedden moved past both – meaning 12th overall and another top five in the Independents.
Starting round nine from row six of the grid, Creesy slipped to 15th position on lap one but moved into 14th before a single lap Safety Car period. When racing resumed on lap five, Crees set about making more progress and he duly did so after moving up into the top 12 by lap eight. Passing Hand on lap 12 to claim 11th place, he then climbed into ninth when two rivals pitted with damage.
On course to take a career-best outright top 10 finish, Creesy pushed for more over the final couple of laps – as spots of rain began to fall. Taking eighth when Shedden crashed out on the penultimate tour, Crees not only wrapped-up a superb overall result but also his first Independents Trophy podium. Notably, his best lap of 1m16.970 seconds was a match for outright podium pace.
“We had everything thrown at us this weekend, from the electrical problems in practice to a misfire in qualifying, but we worked hard to battle through everything and the guys in the team did a great job. Race one was good and race two was pretty strong as well, we moved forward in both, and then the last one was fantastic!
“I was determined I wasn’t going to waste the opportunity in the last race, the car was good and I was able to push and really get stuck in. I’m over the moon to take my first Independents podium of the year, and my best ever overall result in the BTCC with eighth. We’re moving forward all the time, I’m really looking forward now to Oulton.”
Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship action resumes just two weeks from now, at Oulton Park Island Circuit in Cheshire, over the weekend 11th/12th June.
2022 BTCC Independents Trophy Standings
8th Michael Crees, 79pts
2022 BTCC Drivers Championship
18th Michael Crees, 22pts