Michael Crees produced a spirited performance at Croft Circuit this past weekend (June 15/16) as the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship wrote the latest chapter in its 2019 story.
Coming off the back of a character-building weekend at Thruxton, the Team HARD driver arrived at the recently resurfaced North Yorkshire circuit keen to get back amongst the points-paying positions.
Qualifying proved to be one of the most dramatic in recent memory as the 30-minute session was marred by no less than five red flags. With wet weather incoming towards the end, getting a lap time down on the timesheets as soon as possible proved vital amidst the stoppages.
As the clock ticked to zero, the Burlington Bathrooms and Geberit UK-backed driver scored his best qualifying finish of the season so far, hustling his Volkswagen CC to 22nd on the grid.
Following qualifying, Crees took up his usual role alongside Paul O’Neill on the BTCC’s Facebook Live stream before then joining fellow drivers and fans on a charity track walk of the circuit to raise funds for Children with Cancer UK and Alzheimers Society.
Unfortunately, Crees was unable to take advantage of his career-best qualifying as he suffered his first retirement of the season. Having been in the thick of the action within the top 20 for a majority of the race, the Premier Contract Supplies-sponsored driver slid out of the race heading into the Complex, coming to a stop against the tyre barrier.
Starting from 25th for race two, the GKR Scaffolding with Autobrite Direct driver suffered contact from a rival on the opening lap and ultimately was never able to recover as his front-wheel-drive machine suffered steering issues. Adapting to the problem, Crees brought the car across the line in 25th.
With heavy rain falling before the reverse grid encounter, the biggest question on the grid for the entire field was whether to opt for slick or wet tyres. Crees joined a minority of drivers to bolt on slick tyres in the hope that the track would dry out as the race progressed.
Despite the gamble, lap times unfortunately didn’t begin to fall the way of the slick-shod cars until the final third of the race, by which time Crees and those around him were too far back to make any real in-roads.
Staying latched onto the back of the Vauxhall Astra of Rob Collard, Crees made his move on the penultimate lap and brought what proved to be a character-building weekend to a close in 26th.
Leaving Croft, the Burlington Bathrooms, Geberit UK, Hansgrohe, DPC Group, DDS Demolition, Merlyn Showering, SMG Croydon, MVC Events, MJ Plumbing and Imperial Render supported driver sits 23rd in the BTCC Drivers’ Championship and sixth in the Jack Sears Trophy heading into the next rounds at Oulton in Cheshire on June 29/30.
Michael Crees: "It’s been another tough weekend, but it’s all part of the experience. We struggled to really get in the groove and the conditions were challenging to say the least. I think we could have come away with some points but the luck just wasn’t on our side.
“It has been great to meet so many fans this weekend though, the support is unbelievable. On Saturday I joined plenty of spectators to brave the rain and walked the track to raise money for charity - that sums up the BTCC fans in my opinion, they’re just the best!
“Up next we will head to Oulton Park and we’ve got, as always, the aim of making more progress and see if we can get back in the points.”
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.