Michael Crees enjoyed a weekend he will never forget as he produced a sensational performance on his Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup debut, taking a class pole position and a memorable race victory at his home circuit Brands Hatch.
Crees would superbly take all three AM class wins on the road, and while two of those successes would unfortunately be taken away due to penalties, that takes nothing away from an incredible weekend for a driver who only made his car-racing debut twelve months ago.
The move to the Supercup would be a huge step up for the reigning GRDC+ champion as he traded in his 135bhp Ginetta G40 for a 355bhp G55 GT4, but he would take on the challenge with one of the most successful teams in Supercup history; 2015 champions Century Motorsport.
The opening rounds of the championship would see the Crees compete on the support package of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship for the first time, racing in front of around sixty thousand fans trackside over the meeting and many more live on ITV4 on Sunday.
Crees would make a statement of intent for the weekend ahead during pre-event testing on Friday as he topped the timesheets in the AM class by nearly four tenths of a second, and he would go on to superbly replicate that performance in qualifying the next day.
A great run saw him lap the 1.2 mile circuit in 48.450 seconds to take the AM class pole position as the ninth fastest driver overall, which was made more impressive by him only finishing just over half a second slower than the outright pole position time.
With the AM drivers placed behind all their Pro class counterparts on the grids, Crees would line up in twelfth position in his Premier Contract Supplies supported Ginetta G55 GT4 for his first Supercup race – which he started superbly by storming up two positions to tenth.
A controlled drive would see Crees keep tabs with the Pro runners ahead as he pulled clear of his AM rivals on his way to what was set to be a stunning debut victory, however the stewards would have other ideas as they demoted him to second position following an incident on circuit.
Putting that disappointment behind him, the Broadstairs-based racer bounced back in perfect fashion on Sunday morning as he produced a sublime drive in treacherous wet conditions to once again dominate proceedings in the AM class.
Crees would star in the opening stages as he climbed from twelfth on the grid to eighth position overall, and that progression would continue despite a pair of safety car periods halting the action for a number of laps.
The 35 year old would eventually lead home his Century Motorsport team-mates Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke and Angus Fender in an incredible sixth position overall, whilst taking the AM class victory by over five seconds.
The lottery of the reverse grid for the final race would see Crees have to start from fifth in class, however that wouldn’t phase him as he duelled with two-time AM class champion Colin White in the early stages.
After dispatching him at the halfway mark, Crees hunted down the class leader before passing him at Druids on lap nineteen, with some great pace seeing him set the fastest class lap of the race as he edged clear to a two second class victory on the road.
For the second time in the weekend though Crees would see his celebrations cut short, with the stewards handing him a ten second penalty after deeming him to have gained an unfair advantage, which put him back to fourth in class in the final results.
Despite the two lost victories, Crees would receive plaudits from across the paddock and media for his incredible Supercup debut, and he is now looking to challenge for more silverware next time out at Donington Park in Leicestershire on April 28/29.
Michael Crees: "Two years ago I was a paying fan attending the first rounds of the BTCC, racing in hire karts, and now here I am standing on the top step of the podium at my home circuit Brands Hatch – it truly is a dream come true and I can’t believe it’s happened.
“It’s a privilege to even be on the grid this season, but to enjoy the success we have this weekend means so much to me. The Ginetta GT4 Supercup is a great championship, it provides proper racing in fast, fun cars, and I want to thank Century Motorsport for giving me a fantastic car.
“We took all three wins on the road and while I’m gutted that a couple of mistakes from me meant we lost two of them, that’s all part of the massive learning curve that I’m on. With some more experience and some more coaching, I’m confident those mistakes won’t happen again.
“I can’t thank Vince Caldicott, Premier Contract Supplies and all my loyal sponsors enough for all their support in getting me to this position. We had over three hundred guests with us at Brands Hatch and it meant everything to be able to celebrate our success together. I can’t wait for Donington Park.”
Images from Jakob Ebrey Photography.