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Blog 6 – Croft25/06/12

Croft circuit is my home circuit – in terms of being the closest geographically to my home town of Leeds. However in terms of track mileage, it is probably the least known of all the circuits on the calendar. I have only raced previously at Croft twice in the Renault Clio Cup and never in the Porsche as last year the championship went to the Nurburgring instead. With testing limitations at the circuit, none of my fellow competitors would have had much experience either making it difficult for everyone.

Friday’s testing program was a familiarization process of learning the circuit, lines and gears etc. Croft is quite complex with an extremely fast, first and middle sector followed by a very technical, slow final sector. This means you need to find a compromising balance in the car to accommodate both sections of the track.

With the weather changing throughout Friday and into Saturday, track conditions were constantly evolving. Unfortunately for myself, as qualifying began I felt the balance in the car had changed and I struggled to adapt. Languishing at the bottom of the top 10 I dug deep on the second set of tyres and managed to go sixth, which was a relief as I was not happy with the car at all.

Round Nine was later that day and so changes were made to the car in the hope of ironing out the qualifying issues. I got a good start from the Outside and immediately cut to the inside in front of Ben Barker. The opening laps were nose-to-tail until Daniel Lloyd ran wide at the fast chicane onto the back straight, falling down the order to promote me to fifth. Championship leader Michael Meadows began struggling with a flat-spotted tyre, holding up Glynn Geddie and myself, allowing the top two to ease away. With Geddie busy looking ahead, I managed to catch him off guard at the final hairpin and was up into fourth. Two laps later, under pressure Meadows’ tyre finally gave way and he was out of the race. With a small gap behind to Geddie, I kept him at a distance and finished the race on the podium.

For Sundays Round Ten I began the race from fifth position. From the line, the pack remained unchanged for the entire race in what became rather processional. The car had initially felt strong as I sat on the tail of teammate Lloyd but I soon started to suffer from tyre wear. This gradually got worse as the race wore on and it seemed all the drivers were suffering similarly, perhaps due to the hotter Sunday temperatures. I crossed the line in fifth, a good points haul for the championship.

Overall I was happy with Crofts results. Qualifying made it very difficult in both races to come forward, highlighting the importance of grid position. Nevertheless more points were scored with two top five results important before the summer break.