|DDS Group sponsored, CarStore Power Maxed Racing driver Michael Crees made a strong and competitive return to the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship during the opening event of the 2022 season at Donington Park on Sunday, 24th April, after chalking-up three consistent Independents Trophy points results.
Heading into the first event of the BTCC campaign with little in the way of pre-season testing under his belt, the 38-year-old from Broadstairs wasn’t fazed in the slightest and rose to the challenge very impressively on his maiden race weekend at the wheel of the No.777 Vauxhall Astra.
Qualifying just a second shy of pole position, 18th overall on the grid, Creesy charged through to 14th position – sixth in the Independents Trophy class – in round one at the Leicestershire track before adding 15th place, seventh in the Independents, in race two. He rounded-out the event with 16th and sixth in class during round three.
In terms of the championship standings after the BTCC curtain-raiser, the Glencar Construction, Geberit, DDS Group, PCS, Fire Control Services, CTD, Blue Rock Systems, Aquadart and BITA backed driver is sixth in the Independents Trophy points table and 18th in the overall standings.
From the outset during free practice on Saturday, 23rd April, Creesy lapped strongly with the fifth quickest time in the Independents, 15th overall, in session one. He then produced the second best time in the Independents, 11th overall, in session two – only 0.4 seconds shy of the outright pace.
Qualifying later in the day was red flagged around 10 minutes into the session due to a worrying car fire for Ford Focus racer Dan Cammish. After the session resumed, Creesy had to settle for 18th on the grid for round one – sixth in the Independents.
Maintaining position early on in the first race, also the opening encounter of the new hybrid era in the BTCC, the Kent driver began to make progress following an early Safety Car period and went on to conclude the contest in 15th position and sixth in class after a last lap puncture for Jason Plato. Post-race, though, overall winner Jake Hill was excluded and so Creesy was classified 14th overall.
Starting round two from the seventh row of the grid, as per the earlier result, the Astra driver gained two places on lap one to climb into the outright top 12 before being shuffled back to 15th a few laps later. With positions in the pack fluctuating during the closing laps, Creesy went on to finish the race 15th overall – just 0.2 seconds outside the top 12 – and seventh in the Independents.
In round three, from 15th on the grid he maintained position early on before taking 14th place on lap three. Although glancing the tyre stack at the chicane at the end of the lap, Creesy continued without drama and even though passed by Cammish the next time around he returned to 14th spot on lap 11 at the expense of Aiden Moffat.
On lap 13, though, Creesy lost out when challenged at Coppice and was bundled down to 17th in the tightly matched and robustly dicing midfield pack. Taking 16th position before the conclusion, he also secured his second Independents top six of the day. Notably, his quickest lap of 1m09.938 seconds was only 0.3 seconds away from outright podium pace – impressive stuff.
“It’s been a solid start to the campaign for us, and obviously amazing to be back part of a BTCC weekend – there’s no atmosphere like it in motorsport. I worked really well with the team on making the car quicker and we definitely made some good progress, which is really encouraging for everyone. There’s still a bit of work to do with the engine, and some adapting to the new hybrid system, but I’m really looking forward to Brands now in a few weeks. It’s going to be awesome being back racing in front of my home crowd there.”
Creesy will head home for rounds four, five and six of the BTCC season, the first of two visits this year to Brands Hatch in Kent, over the weekend 14th/15th May.
2022 BTCC Independents Trophy Standings
6th Michael Crees, 29pts
2022 BTCC Drivers Championship
18th Michael Crees, 3pts