Michael Crees signed off his maiden season in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship in style this past weekend (October 5/6), producing a battling performance around the iconic Grand Prix layout of Brands Hatch.
Entering the weekend riding a wave of momentum after claiming a sensational first-ever top ten finish at Silverstone last time out, the Team HARD driver returned to his home circuit in Kent optimistic of adding to his points tally.
Persistent rain added further spice to the action throughout the weekend, with the wet weather intensifying during a frenetic qualifying session on Saturday. Struggling with the balance of his Volkswagen CC, the 35-year-old ultimately powered his way to 28th on the grid for the opening encounter.
Race one on Sunday proved to be one of attrition as mid-race rain added further excitement to proceedings. Running just outside of the top 20, the Premier Contract Supplies and Burlington Bathrooms sponsored driver was one of several to dive into the pit-lane at the halfway stage and bolt on a set of wet tyres.
Unfortunately, the Broadstairs based racer would have to queue behind a team-mate to get his new tyres and that ultimately cost him dear, leaving him to finish a lap down at the chequered flag.
With track conditions still on a knife-edge, Crees took the gamble to run slick tyres in the second encounter whilst a majority of others stuck with wets. Unable to utilise them, despite the track drying considerably in the final few laps, the former two-time Ginetta champion crossed the line in 23rd.
Unfortunately, Crees’ season-finale came to a premature end as, on the fringe of the top 20, he was forced to pit due to a mechanical issue – a frustrating end for the Geberit UK, Hansgrohe, DPC Group, DDS Demolition, Merlyn Showering, SMG Croydon, MVC Events, MJ Plumbing and Imperial Render supported ace.
Crees has firmly become a fans favourite in his maiden BTCC campaign, and finishes the year as the top rookie in the championship after claiming two points finishes; a stunning debut result at Brands Hatch and his memorable ninth place finish at Silverstone.
Michael Crees: "What a weekend, what a season! We pretty much had weather of all sorts at Brands Hatch and for us, we gave it a good go, gambled on tyres but the dice didn’t roll our way unfortunately.
“Overall, I’m over the moon with how my first season in the BTCC has gone. Joining the grid has been a dream come true and I firstly have to say a huge thank you to my family, friends, team, loyal sponsors and partners - because they’ve helped make it possible.
“This championship is so competitive and like everyone, we’ve had our highs and lows along the way. To come away with points and a top ten finish is unbelievable; I had goals I wanted to achieve at the start of the year and I’ve achieved every single one of them.
“I’m heading into the winter in high spirits and I know that the BTCC is where I want to be for next year. We’ve got some options to look over and I’m confident that if I return next year that I can become a regular in the points.”
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.