Unlucky DNF's seen at Croft
Unlucky DNF’s seen at Croft
The weekend saw Carstore Power Maxed Racing travel up north to Croft circuit, based in Darlington for the British Touring Car Championship for rounds 13, 14 and 15. The team were excited to see the #777 car perform after the crash at Oulton Park only two weeks prior.
On the Saturday morning the paddock began to fill and from 09:30 engines were firing up. Free practice one had started, the first fifteen minutes the drivers were warming up the tyres and doing crossover pit stops, once all warm both Crees and Hand set off and secured flying laps. Creesy #777 hit a 1.23.725 coming P.13 and Hand #97 secured a 1.24.265 resulting in P.18. With ten minutes left of the session, the PMR team pulled both drivers one by one into the pits for a final pit stop and tyre change which resulted in faster times; Crees #777 finished the session with a 1.22.999 securing P.21 and Hand #97 finished with a 1.22.739 and P.17.
Early afternoon saw free practice two and the session gave a dramatic opening lap with an unfortunate red flag down on the first corner; Cleraux, which ate away ten minutes of the session. Once the session was back underway both Hand and Creesy set some great times and moved up the grid. Hand #97 finished in P.10 with a best lap of 1.22.038, which he secured in his eleventh lap and Crees #777 secured P.15 with a best lap of 1.22.322, which he delivered on lap six of his session. In total due to a shorten session the drivers only got thirty one laps on the tarmac which showed their was pace in the car and they improved massively from free practice one. The whole team were feeling confident for the afternoons qualify session, which was hosted a few hours later.
Later that afternoon the Carstore Power Maxed team all set and ready for the thirty-minute long qualifying session as the cars pulled into the pits, engines revving and the drivers, Hand #97 and Creesy #777 fully in the zone.
The session started and everyone went out to warm up their tyres, however within the first five minutes the red flag was waved resulting in the rest of the grid having to return to the pits and wait. The recovery team worked quickly and got the car involved off the track so the green flag could be waved. The session restarted and within two minutes another red flag was waved, unfortunately during qualifier unlike a race, time doesn’t get added on so the session time is stopped and the grid have to remain in the pits waiting for a green flag which results in the drivers losing heat in the tyres.
Finally once again the green flag was waved and both Crees #777 and Hand #97 set incredible laps achieving P.4 and P.5 however as the session went on the traffic on track kept interrupting the drivers flying laps, which affected the overall lap time. Hand #97 secured an 1.22.395 on lap 14 and P.23 and Crees #777 unfortunately didn’t finish the session, with 46 seconds on the clock he had an issue with the kill switch, stopping his engine and the red flag came out however on lap 13 he achieved a 1.22.299, finishing in P.21.
Saturday overall was a very stop start day for all the grid and a disappointing end for the Carstore Power Maxed Racing team but still working hard and fighting strong for the main event on Sunday.
Race day arrived and the circuit was flooded with all the amazing fans and guests, which was great to see. During the live Q&A the Carstore Power Maxed hospitality hosted a generous charity raffle for the Air ambulance and 3 lucky winners received signed canvas photographs of both Creesy and Hand’s British Touring cars. Later that morning the pit lane signing session was full of energy. The Jeff Army joined the PMR drivers with a speaker, encouraging Creesy to sing; the atmosphere was electric and had everyone in high spirits for the day ahead which started slightly later at midday.
11:55 saw the grid open ready for race one and the cars all left the pits and made their way around the track to meet the grid people and VIP hospitality guests on the grid, after ten minutes of final preparations everyone left the drivers and cleared the grid. This was the moment we had all been waiting for, fifteen laps around the 2.1001 miles track. Lights went out and the twenty- eight cars flew down the straight and into the first corner both drivers having a great start and jumping up positions on the first lap sitting in P.17 and P.19 however by lap three the safety car joined the pack due to another team’s race coming to an end. For four laps the cars weaved around the track keeping the tyres warm and by lap seven the safety car was back in and the roar of engines were echoing down the start finish line. On lap thirteen unfortunately the safety car had re-joined the grid and bunched up the drivers again however only for three laps this time, luckily the overall total laps had increased to eighteen laps so the drivers had more opportunity to increase position. By lap sixteen the safety car came in so the boys had three laps until the end of the race; both driving beautifully and applying pressure Crees #777 finished in P.16 increasing 5 positions and Hand #97 finished just slightly behind in P.18 jumping up from P.23.
Due to lots of incidents throughout the day in other supporting championships the timetable was delayed by nearly thirty minutes, which meant that race two started later than planned however the race got underway and did not take long for more misfortune to take place for the Carstore Power Maxed team. On lap three Creesy #777 had an incident, which resulted in damage to the front left wheel, and a DNF for the race in coincidence the safety car was brought out due to another crash on track and the rest of the grid had four laps under the safety car. Again the total laps of the race increased to eighteen laps and from lap eight the BTCC grid were burning rubber again. By lap fifteen Hand #97 had increased position up to P.15 and was 2nd in the Jack Sears trophy however by the end of the race had dropped back to P.16 and then later on received a four second penalty finishing in P.17.
The early evening saw the final race of a very hectic day and due to a lot delays the grid walk was cancelled unfortunately. Creesy #777 all fixed joined the other twenty- eight drivers on the start line fired up and ready to fight through the pack and get back into the correct position. The action started and Crees jumped up five positions in the first two laps which was amazing to see, however the bad luck continued on the Carstore Power Maxed Driver and unfortunately had to DNF again due to a puncture on the same damaged wheel before in race two. Hand #97 kept pushing and for most of the race was being held up however on lap nine he was able to pass which then he had clean air to catch the rest of the pack up. Unfortunately he ran out of time and the race finished but he secured P.13 jumping up four positions.
Overall the weekend was an unlucky one for the Carstore Power Maxed team but now with summer break here the team and drivers, Hand and Crees have four weeks to rebuild and refocus for Knockhill which is being held earlier this year on the 30th & 31st July.
Already half way through the season and Carstore Power Maxed Racing are standing 5th in the BTCC Independents Teams Championship and 9th in the BTCC Team championship. Hand is currently 7th in the Independent Trophy and 18th in BTCC Drivers Championship with Crees just behind in 19th and 9th in the Independent Trophy. And amazingly Hand is currently 3rd in the Jack Sears trophy with a total of 204 points.
For images from the weekend, please contact Dani@powermaxedracing.com
Adam Weaver, Team Principal; “Currently there’s too much disparity between our championship engines and those of other teams, straight line speed is a real issue. We are confident that we have our chassis in a great place and the drivers are driving incredibly well, hitting braking points and apexs consistently. We are gaining massively in corners only for others to drive past and off as they brake too early and miss their apexs- which can easily be seen and proved by watching our onboards. Just hope the championship can balance the performance more fairly before we head in to the second half of the season.”
Martin Broadhurst, Team Manager; “It was a weekend of two halves really, Michael had race ending contact in two races with the team yet again doing a great job to affect the repairs to get the car back out. Ash had a solid weekend driving very well in all three races but I have to say that Croft has highlighted that we are down on engine parity which really needs to be looked at and addressed before the second half of the season gets underway.”
Michael Crees #777; “It’s been a really challenging weekend to be fair, we came here and had a few problems with the car – some problems out of the team's control – and so we started off on the back foot again. In qualifying, unfortunately one of the nuts came loose on the kill switch, which caused the car to stop and the red flag, so they took my best time away as a result.
“Starting 21st for race one, I made a good start to the racing by finishing P16 – I was quite happy with that. We struggled a bit with the engine compared to those around me, we didn’t have the pace to go forward on the straights, so just capitalised on the corners. Race two was short-lived, [Gordon] Shedden came down the inside and we touched, it snapped the suspension. The team fixed the car for race three, the boys and girls worked so hard all weekend, but then we had more dramas in race three! It’s not been the weekend we wanted, but we’ll all regroup now for Knockhill.”
Ash Hand #97; “The weekend overall was a good weekend we found out a lot about the car set up and driving style to maximise what we have; the team did a great job to get the most out of what we have. Our downfall at the moment is our lack of straight-line speed once we figure that out, we will be looking at podiums and race wins.”