Michael Crees has stormed into the championship lead in the AM class of the Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup after making a dream return to the top step of the podium with a sensational pair of victories at Croft this past weekend (23/24 June).
On his first ever visit to the unique Yorkshire circuit, Crees produced a brilliant display to bring the first half of his maiden Supercup campaign to a close with his third and fourth wins of the season so far, securing him the points lead for the first time.
Aiming to bounce back strongly from a difficult meeting at Oulton Park two weeks’ prior, Friday’s two free practice sessions would prove crucial for the Premier Contract Supplies driver as he got acquainted with the Croft circuit in his Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4.
Instantly clicking with the circuit, Crees would end the day fastest in the AM class by over four tenths of a second, which filled him with confidence as he headed into qualifying the next day looking to make it four pole positions out of four this year.
Unfortunately it wouldn’t quite go the 34 year old’s way as he found himself blocked twice when he was set to improve upon his best lap-time, but he would still come away with a superb second on the grid for the opening race later that afternoon.
Crees kicked off proceedings in brilliant fashion as he launched off the line into an immediate race lead ahead of his two main rivals in the AM class title battle, Jack Minshaw and Colin White, with the trio quickly settling into a great battle for victory.
With the two drivers looming large in his mirrors having much more experience of the Croft circuit, Crees would have to produce a defensive masterclass to keep them at bay; perfectly placing his Ginetta at each corner to ensure they couldn’t make a move.
Soaking up their pressure from start-to-finish, a truly faultless display from the Broadstairs-based racer would earn him a richly deserved victory, and with it the fastest lap of the race for the seventh time in the first nine races of the year.
That result ensured Crees would start the first of Sunday’s two races from pole position in front of the live ITV4 television cameras, however a tough start to proceedings saw him drop back to fifth in class by the end of the opening lap.
The Kent driver would produce a terrific fightback drive though as he picked his way through to second within the next five laps, and although he was handed a ten second time penalty for track limits infringements, that position would remain his at the chequered flag.
With two podiums from two races under his belt, Crees would make it an excellent hat-trick in the final race of the day, as he fought through from third on the reverse grid to take victory despite facing the wrong way at one stage after receiving contact.
Immediately moving up to second on the opening lap, the reigning GRDC+ champion would maintain the place until a mid-race safety car period. Back on the attack once the race resumed, Crees grabbed the lead into the Complex, only to be spun around two corners later.
The incident would not faze him though and he would recover superbly from third place, remarkably taking only two racing laps to storm back into the class lead, which he maintained to the finish to take victory – a result made more pivotal with his two main title rivals having hit trouble.
Crees, who races with support from Nutanix, Hansgrohe, Creesons, DDS Demolition, Daikin, Roca, DPC Group and RadiatorsOnline.com, now holds a three point advantage atop the standings heading into a five week break before the next rounds at Snetterton in Norfolk on 28/29 July.
Michael Crees: “Considering I’d never been to Croft before, I came into the weekend hoping to maybe pick up a podium finish and some solid championship points ... so to walk away with two wins, a second and the points lead is truly beyond my wildest dreams.
“I had to dust myself off after our troubles at Oulton Park, but to come back in this fashion is truly mega. I instantly clicked with the circuit, it’s really fun to drive, and it’s a shame that we had some issues with traffic in qualifying as I feel we had the speed for pole position.
“The circuit is particularly tough on tyres, so that was a new learning experience for me having to really control my pace and the tyre wear, but our strategies worked and I was able to push in all three races to come through with the podium results.
“It was an awesome feeling to climb back onto the top step of the podium and that was certainly a great way to cap off the first half of the season. I’ve loved every second of it and I can’t quite believe that I head into the summer as the AM class championship leader.
“There’s only five points separating the three of us at the top of the standings though, so it’s shaping up to a brilliant battle in the second half of the season. I won all three GRDC+ races last year at Snetterton, so I’m confident we’ll come back from the break and be right at the front again!”
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.