Michael Crees has been crowned the 2018 Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup AM class champion after bringing his dream first season in the championship to a close with a stunning podium hat-trick at his home circuit Brands Hatch this past weekend (29/30 September).
Crees has been the pace-setter in the AM class right from the opening rounds at the same venue back in April, with a truly sensational season seeing him secure six pole positions, eleven race wins and nineteen podium finishes over the course of the 23 race campaign.
With over 150 guests cheering him on as part of a huge crowd in Kent, the Broadstairs based racer secured his second car-racing title in only two years of competition with some sensational performances in his Century Motorsport-prepared Ginetta G55 GT4.
Crees laid down a statement of intent for the weekend ahead by leading free practice on Friday by a quarter of a second, however come qualifying that gap was over six tenths of a second as a stunning lap of 1m 30.667s secured him the AM class pole position.
That success means Crees only missed out on pole position on two occasions across the whole campaign, and he looked to take advantage of his prime starting position in the opening race however some early drama ahead cost him ground.
A stalled car in front on the grid forced him to lose momentum off the line, while sudden damage for another driver led to them dramatically slowing, with Crees forced off circuit in avoidance through the first corner which dropped him to third.
Settling into a good rhythm, the Premier Contract Supplies backed driver would heap the pressure on series stalwart Colin White ahead, but with the championship in the back of his mind he didn’t risk a move and a mature drive took him to a first third place finish of the year.
The crucial points from that race meant he merely had to finish the second race of the day to take the title, however it wouldn’t be an easy drive to the flag with an opening lap incident with Jack Minshaw causing them both to spin.
Ending up in sixth, Crees’ racing instinct took over as he produced a storming drive through the field, gaining two places in two laps towards the middle of the race, before bold moves into Paddock Hill and Druids on the final tour secured him second in class.
That was a fitting way to secure his championship title, with jubilant scenes in parc ferme seeing the 35 year old greeted by a huge crowd of supporters as he climbed onto his Ginetta in celebration, before some emotional scenes atop the podium.
After an evening of festivities, it was back to the serious business of racing on Sunday afternoon with the final race of the 2018 season, with the Nutanix supported racer starting fifth on the reverse grid in front of the live ITV4 television cameras.
Crees held his position through an early safety car period before going on the offensive, picking his way up to second place either side of another pause in proceedings, with a late challenge for the class victory ultimately not going his way as he took the flag in second.
That result means the 2017 GRDC+ champion has concluded the season with a sensational run of fifteen consecutive podium finishes to win the AM title by a fantastic margin of 73 points from the former two-time class champion White.
It completes a campaign in which Crees has truly been a revelation as part of the UK’s highest profile race package, with his entertaining style on track and his passionate approach to racing drawing praise across the paddock and the media, who are tipping him for a bright future in the sport.
Michael Crees: “This is an absolute dream come true. Two years ago I was a paying fan, sitting on the banks watching the racing and hoping one day I’d be out there on track, and it’s just amazing to now be stood on the top step of the podium as a champion.
“We’ve enjoyed so many incredible races this season. To win on my debut weekend was amazing, and then to take my first double victory at Croft. After that, I was determined to get a hat-trick and to tick that box at Silverstone and finish with fifteen podiums in a row is unbelievable.
“Putting all the success aside, I’ve learnt so much this year and that’s the key thing for me. I’m still incredibly new to motorsport and I’m here to develop and improve as a driver, and this season has put me in a great position heading into 2019 and beyond.
“The support I’ve had this season has made it for me. The celebrations on the podium with everyone was truly one of the most special moments of my life. I can’t thank all my sponsors enough for their support, and to Century Motorsport for giving me a perfect car every weekend.
“It’s been an incredible journey and it feels fitting that it started and finished at my home circuit of Brands Hatch. Whatever happens in my racing career and my life from now on, I will always have this moment and I’ll never forget it.”
Crees’ success came with the support of his family and friends, Nathan Freke and the Century Motorsport team, Premier Contract Supplies, Nutanix, Creesons, Roca UK, Hansgrohe, DPC Limited, Laufen Bathrooms, RadiatorsOnline.com, Viega, Towel Rads, SMG VW Vans, DDS Demolition, ETMS Highways, Daikin, Merlyn Showering, Imperial Render Solutions, Equip Scaffolding, Pro Construction Kent, Complete Carpentry UK, Image Grafix, Next Level Motorsport, Tom Oliphant and Ginetta.
Images from Jakob Ebrey Photography.