- Chris Ashby
Michael Crees Shows More BTCC Promise At Donington Park
Michael Crees showed further promise in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship this past weekend (April 27/28) as he produced a pair of battling performances at Donington Park. Riding a wave of momentum after scoring points on his BTCC debut at Brands Hatch, the Team HARD driver entered the weekend in high spirits. That was carried into Saturday’s two free practice sessions where he revelled in getting more seat time in his Volkswagen CC. In a qualifying session that was truncated by three red flag stoppages, the 35-year-old mastered the challenging conditions to deliver a best lap time of 1:11.860s to finish 24th overall - matching his performance at the season-opener. With the live ITV4 on-board camera and the option Dunlop compound tyres fitted for the first race of the weekend, the Burlington Bathrooms and Premier Contract Supplies sponsored racer served up a feisty display to claim 21st at the chequered flag. In what proved to be an action-packed 19 laps under the flight path of East Midlands airport, Crees managed to steer clear of a multi-car incident on the opening lap to run as high as 16th at one stage. Beginning to fall into the clutches of those behind due to tyre degradation, Crees continued to show the fighting spirit fans have become accustomed to early on in his BTCC career by bringing his front-wheel-drive machine across the line in 21st. Switching to the faster Dunlop rubber for the second race of the day, Crees found himself in the thick of the action as he narrowly missed out on scoring a second points finish of the season, finishing 16th. In what proved to be another action-packed race, the Geberit UK and Hansgrohe sponsored rookie fought against understeer to work his way up the order and find himself in the mix for the final points paying position. Unfortunate contact with the Subaru of Senna Proctor slowed Crees up slightly in the closing laps, however the reigning Ginetta GT4 SuperCup AM champion was able to hold his nerve and bring the car home to yet another strong finish. Crees’ race day came to an abrupt end in the reverse grid encounter sadly as he skated off the track as the field streamed down the Craner Curves for the first time, coming to a rest in the gravel trap. Michael Crees: "It has been another learning weekend for us and we can leave Donington Park in high spirits. Running the hard tyre in the first race was always going to be tough because we knew it was the favoured compound but we did well to work our way up a couple of spots and bring the car home. “Race two was where I had set my sights on making some progress as we were on the optimum tyre. From the start I had some understeer but the car felt strong, I think I just need to get stuck in a little bit more. We were well in the mix though and we came so close to scoring some more points. “It was sad to finish the weekend in the gravel but there were plenty of positives to take away from the event. We’ll take what we’ve learnt and then look to improve further at Thruxton.” Crees leaves the Leicestershire venue sitting 23rd in the BTCC Drivers’ Championships whilst also remaining fourth in the Jack Sears Trophy. The BTCC is back in action at Thruxton in Hampshire on May 18/19.
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.