Michael Crees produced a battling performance in the latest instalment of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship this past weekend (14/15 September), claiming a pair of finishes in his first ever race meeting at Knockhill.
Buoyed by the improvements made at Thruxton last time out, the Team HARD driver headed north of the border to Scotland optimistic of a strong showing – especially having got the chance to test at the Fife venue in pre-season.
Following Saturday two free practice sessions, Crees went on to set a best time of 51.641s for 26th place in what proved to be an ultra-competitive qualifying session, ending up little over a second off of pole position – underlining the ongoing improvements being made.
Starting hot on the heels of his Volkswagen CC stablemates, the Premier Contract Supplies, Burlington Bathrooms, Geberit UK, Hansgrohe, DPC Group and DDS Demolition sponsored driver saw his race unfortunately over before it really began.
Gaining three spots on the opening lap, Crees had looked on course to break into the top 20 before becoming involved in an incident with Nicolas Hamilton on the second tour, resulting in him sustaining race-ending damage.
Forced to start race two from the back of the grid, the 36-year-old found himself in an almighty scrap throughout the 24 laps as he went wheel-to-wheel with the likes of Ashley Sutton, Mark Blundell and Dan Rowbottom. Running as high as 22nd at one stage, Crees would unfortunately drop down the order to cross the line in 27th.
The third and final race of the weekend proved to be a frenetic affair with Crees once again in the thick of the action. Despite his car starting to fill with smokes in the latter stages, the two-time Ginetta champion held on to bring his weekend to a close in 24th.
Michael Crees: “It has been a frustrating weekend because I think we deserved a lot more than what we got. Saturday proved to be really good for us and we found some real pace in the car; unfortunately we couldn’t translate it on race day.
“Being in the middle of the action puts you in the firing line and we endured our fair share of contact, which cost us from possibly challenging inside the top 20. We came here knowing that this was one of our stronger circuits, so it is tough to come away with nothing.
“That being said, we learnt lots more and that will only help us as we head to Silverstone in a couple of weeks’ time. The aim there, as always, will be to see if we can get back in the points.”
The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship now heads to Silverstone on September 28/29 for the penultimate event of the 2019 campaign; with Rounds 25, 26 & 27 likely to offer up more opportunities for the Merlyn Showering, SMG Croydon, MVC Events, MJ Plumbing and Imperial Render backed driver to score further points.
The Renault UK Clio Cup made it’s first trip to Knockhill in four years as Scorton’s Max Coates took to the track leading the championship by 6 points. He had a successful weekend lifting trophy’s in both races.
The Primex Plastics backed driver took pole position for the weekends first race in a frantic qualifying session which was interrupted by a rain shower. Coates had posted the fastest time of the session when the rain fell which meant both he, and everyone else, couldn’t go faster. The rain came about 10 seconds too early for Coates who was on a lap capable of race two pole as well but couldn’t make his normal braking at the final corner.
In race one the RPC bpi PLASgran car got away well and built up a comfortable lead on the opening lap before a safety car effectively restarted the race. Under pressure from his main championship rival, the Polydist sponsored driver remained calm and never put a wheel out of line to come home the winner by 6 tenths of a second.
In race two which was screened live on ITV4 Max in the Harron Homes backed car didn’t make the best of starts and immediately came under pressure for 2nd place. On lap four he dropped a wheel on the gravel and lost his position falling back to 3rd. Two laps later a tap into turn one sent him straight on and fortunately he held control and re-joined still in 3rd place. He then began a charge back. The car in front made an error as Max caught him in the RMB Automotive and Bennett Renault backed car, this put Max back into the runner up spot. Max tried what he could in the final stages to regain the lost time to the leader but couldn’t make it back up, instead having to settle for 2nd.
Afterwards Coates said, “Qualifying and race one was brilliant and really showed our abilities to the full. The lap in qualifying felt great and I carried that pace and consistency over into race one. Despite the pressure I kept it smooth and was really happy with my performance. Race two didn’t got to plan, my reaction to the lights was slow and it allowed Jack to get a gap. The race didn’t really pan out for me from there so a second place was a good result. The Team HARD Racing guys have done a great job this weekend and I’d like to thank my sponsors for the continued support in pursuit of the Renault UK Clio Cup title.”
Knockhill’s races can be watched back via the BTCC ITV Motorsport website; https://www.itv.com/btcc/races/btcc-2019-knockhill-race-action. The Clio Cup will continue at Silverstone, Northamptonshire on the 28th and 29th of September. Coates will qualify on the Saturday before round fifteen takes place on Saturday afternoon, both sessions can be followed via TSL Live Timing. The second race of the weekend, round sixteen, will be screened live on ITV4, at 13:40 on the Sunday afternoon.
We can confirm today that GT Cup star Kris Prosser will step up to the Millers Oil Ginetta GT4 Supercup series for the remaining two rounds of the season. Prosser, who has been prominent in the teams GT Cup success this season and will be taking part in the Millers Oils Ginetta GT4 Supercup which is part of the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) support package.
Tony Gilham, Managing Director of Team HARD. Racing is delighted to see Prosser move over to the Supercup after seeing his progression with the team this season. “It’s great to have Kris (Prosser) representing us in the Supercup at Silverstone and Brands Hatch. He’s been a key figure in our GT Cup campaign this season both on and off track, providing great speed on it and valuable engineering advice off it. We both think it’s time to step up to the Ginetta Supercup now Kris has got to grips with the Ginetta, a car that was new to him at the beginning of the season.”
Team HARD. Racing are no strangers to the championship, with multiple driver having already run with the team in the series this season. Two of the teams current BTCC drivers; Carl Boardley and Michael Crees also competed in the championship in 2018 with the later claiming the AM title.
Prosser is relishing the chance of testing his skills against the established Supercup runners. “After a great successful streak of GT Cup races, it’s time to step up. I’ve been watching the Supercup closely and have seen some super competitive racing. GT Cup provides some great wheel to wheel racing with different manufacturers but often you find different cars have different advantages such as more power, aero or weight differences. Everyone is on equal terms with Supercup and that is a challenge I am relishing.
I can’t thank Team HARD. Racing enough for giving me this opportunity as it will be the highest level of racing I’ve done so far in my career. There is lots of work to do as the Supercup run on Michelin tyres which are much softer than what I am used to.”
Joining the Supercup paddock will be a great opportunity to race against established drivers with close wheel to wheel racing and I can’t wait to get started!”
Prosser’s transition to the Millers Oil Ginetta GT4 Supercup highlights the career progression that is available at Team HARD. Racing who provide a clear path for drivers to reach the top levels of Motorsport in the United Kingdom. Prosser will debut in the series at Silverstone over the weekend of the 28th-29th September on the national circuit which is televised live on ITV4.
Photo Credit: Ian Cutting from Prescott Motorsport
ASHBOURNE racing driver Sam Randon will try his hand at a higher standard of racing – although in the same car – for two meetings towards the end of the season.
Randon’s Team HARD have withdrawn him from the GT Cup, where he has been competitive but in which the rules allowed other cars a significant power advantage.
Now they will enter two rounds of the Miller Oils Ginetta G55 GT4 Supercup, which runs on the televised British Touring Car bill, and in which there is a level playing field for power, not to mention a higher profile.
In the Supercup races, he will drive alone, rather than sharing with a team-mate.
“I just love the Ginetta G55 and racing with Team HARD,” said Randon.
“The SuperCup cars have huge rear wings and much more effective downforce than the GT4 category I have been racing the car in.
“As such, it can corner much faster but does test your confidence as a driver.”
Randon will race just 2 of the final 3 rounds unless further funding can be secured. The rounds he will compete in are at Knockhill in Scotland and the Grand Prix layout at Brands Hatch.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” he said.
“I’ve never raced at either of the circuits but it’s long been an ambition.”
Randon remains under the guidance of Team HARD boss and former BTCC driver Tony Gilham. His first televised race will be shown on ITV4 on Sunday, September 15.
Randon is grateful to his sponsors; Twincentric Integration, Velocity IT Interim and Consulting, Incite Consulting, AVIT Media, MX Display, DM Integration, Catena Business Networking, and The Chequered Flag Micro-bar.
Sam said “Without them I simply wouldn’t be racing”.
Story by Colston Crawford, Ashbourne News Telegraph
Team HARD. Racing’s #79 Ginetta GT4 Supercup challenger went into the Brands Hatch weekend sitting pretty at the top of the GTA class championship and sat 5th overall in the GT Cup standings. Kris Prosser returned after sitting out the last round of the series and partnered Nicholas Scott-Dickeson who deputised last time out.
The team were honoured with prime TV coverage during Saturday’s event with the #79 car having onboard cameras for both the sprint and feature race, TV viewers were not to be disappointed.
Prosser qualified the car on pole position after setting a lap some 1.5seconds faster than the 2nd car in class. Some were thinking it would be an easy run to chequered flag for Prosser. It was far from it.
Prosser set off with some scorching pace in the early stages as he lapped the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit a dazzling 2 seconds a lap faster then his nearest class rival. An uncharacteristic mistake at Surtees on lap 4 saw him drop down to 3rd in class and left him with plenty of work to do for the remaining laps of the race. Clearly determined to hit the front once again, Prosser continued to push, beating his own fastest lap again and again until disaster struck on lap 11 as the cockpit of the #79 Ginetta began to fill with smoke. Prosser, doing the sensible thing, immediately pulled off the circuit at druids and was forced to retire from the race.
A fire broke out at the rear of the car with fibre glass rubbing on the exhaust after a small altercation with another car in the holding area before the race begun. Prosser was taken to the medical centre for checks after inhaling a large amount of toxic smoke given off from the burning fibreglass on the #79 machine. Thankfully Prosser was given the all clear and was unharmed from the incident.
Unfortunately for the team the #79 car was beyond repair for Saturday’s endurance race, meaning both Prosser and Scott-Dickeson were forced to sit on the side-lines.
The Team HARD. Racing boys pulled off a mini miracle and arrived at the circuit in the early hours of Sunday morning armed with a new car ready for Prosser and Scott-Dickeson. An amazing achievement after Saturday’s events.
Sundays sprint race saw Scott-Dickeson take to the wheel and immediately slot into 2nd before being forced to surrender the position after a race long battle with the #8 BMW with just 8 minutes to go of the 25-minute race.
Scott-Dickeson was delighted to bring home silverware for the team “The sprint race was a great challenge for me as my last race at brands was at night. The car on fresh tyres really brought out the best in the car and me as I posted my fastest laps of the weekend trying to chase down the other GTA runners. I was happy to finish in a podium position and it was only when I got back to the garage I could see how happy my team and Tony were on my pace which was a massive boost to have getting out of the car.”
The feature race saw another dice with the #8 BMW as Prosser took over for the opening stint and raced into 1st place. Prosser held off sustained pressure until he dived into the pits for the mandatory pitstop and driver change on lap 20. The #79 was hit with a success pit-stop penalty which dropped the car back down into 2nd once it returned to the track with Scott-Dickenson at the wheel. Despite pushing hard for the win, the pair had to settle for 2nd, important championship points in the bag and more silverware for the team.
A tale of two halves for Prosser who was in reflective mood on Sunday after the racing had reached its climax. “Having jumped into the car for qualifying on the Saturday not knowing the GP loop it felt quite odd turning left at Surtees. It didn’t take too long to learn the circuit and put the car on pole for the race!
I noticed halfway through my race that the car was starting to smoke slightly, after pitting to check if the car was okay, I got sent back out with some mist to unlap myself! Putting in a hot lap but possibly too hot! After turning into paddock, the car began to produce a large amount of black smoke in the car. I pulled over by an orange marshal board to get a fire extinguisher. The car at first didn’t seem too bad but once the fire caught a fuel hose at the back it began to produce huge flames down the side!
The team realised before the race had finished that they’d need to get a new car so by the time I was discharged from the medical unit the guys had gone back to the workshop to build a new car for the next day. I visited the guys later that night at the new unit and the new car was looking good!
Sadly, as the fire damaged car had a lot of powder & foam inside, this was a priority to clean as it can damage the electronics inside.
The next day we got the car out for Nick who took 5 seconds of his lap time which was amazing work! I started the final race of the weekend last on the grid to pull into 1st in class when I was brought into the pits. Sadly, due to our excess pit penalty we lost a lot of time to the BMW. P2 in the end but an amazing job by the mechanics to turn around a new car within 15 hours!”
To round the weekend off in style the Team HARD. Racing mechanics were award with ‘Team of the Weekend’ for their sterling efforts in getting the #79 car back out for a double podium finish in Sunday’s races.
You will be able to view highlights of the eventful Brands Hatch weekend on Motorsport.TV and Youtube over the coming weeks and for LIVE action, the GT Cup squad is at Donington Park on 21/22nd September for the penultimate round of championship.