Reigning Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup Champion Carl Breeze retained second place in the points standings at Croft over the weekend, 22nd/23rd June, with a double podium finish – but the Total Control Racing driver couldn’t make it three out of three after contact in the final encounter.
Beginning the first of the weekend’s three races on Saturday, round 12, from second on the grid, Breeze maintained his position off the start but had to spend the race fighting a rear-guard action to keep the chasing pack behind as a detached bonnet cost him pace along the straights.
Despite being under intense pressure throughout, the Kings Lynn driver produced an inch-perfect race to hold on to second place for his seventh podium of the campaign and managed to fend off Rob Boston by 0.5 seconds on the line.
Again starting round 13 from the front-row, Breeze remained in second place at the first corner before soon coming under pressure from Boston. On lap 10, the battle reached a head when Boston just edged inside Breeze’s car at Hawthorn.
Putting Breeze wide for the chicane, forcing him to straight-line the corner, the pair ran up to Tower Bend in their original order but Boston produced a very late dive up the inside and made contact with the 2012 champion. With Breeze on the outside line, he had no option but to concede second place and so finished third for his second podium of the weekend and eighth rostrum of the season.
Round 14 proved frustrating for Breeze and TCR when a hat-trick of Croft podiums went begging following further contact from Boston – this time forcing retirement for Breeze. On a wet track, he managed to take the lead from third on the grid but his race was over at the end of lap two.
Team-mates Mark Davies and Jamie Orton encountered mixed fortunes, the latter’s weekend ending after Saturday’s race when a blown engine – while running in 11th place – ruled him out for the rest of the event.
Davies, meanwhile, took a best finish of fifth in the opening encounter after climbing through the order well from eighth position. Challenging Pepe Massot hard for seventh, the TCR driver managed to make the breakthrough on lap six before pulling well clear of the Spaniard.
Closing in at a rapid rate to the battling duo of Max Coates and Andrew Watson, Davies produced a fantastic opportunist pass at the complex on the final lap when Coates and Watson tangled to leap into the top five.
In round 13 on Sunday afternoon, the Huddersfield driver held fifth place off the line before moving into the top four but a spin at the complex on lap six dropped him down to 14th place. Mounting a very strong recovery, Davies carved his way through to eighth by the finish. He then added seventh in the rain-affected final race following an early moment in the tricky conditions.
“It’s good to have been on the podium again with Carl but it was a tough weekend for the team as a whole really”, said TCR principal Lee Brookes, “Mark had some pace but was just a bit unfortunate to be honest and Jamie decided it wasn’t worth trying to fit a new engine after the first race. It’s been a tough one, we’ll be back stronger at Snetterton though.”
Carl Breeze - Croft Podium - credit Jakob Ebrey Photography
Clio racer Smith frustrated at challenging Croft
Renault UK Clio Cup racer Rob Smith also endured a difficult weekend at Croft with a best result of 15th place overall, ninth in the Graduate Cup class, during round nine of the season at the North Yorkshire venue on Saturday.
Disappointed to begin the race from 12th in class, 20th overall, the initial encounter was red flagged after three laps following a hefty accident for Devon Modell. Round nine was re-started afresh over 10 laps and at the start, Smith climbed into 18th position overall and then took 17th place a lap later.
Gaining another spot soon after, the TCR racer edged ahead into the top 15 over the line into lap six but James Nutbrown had the line for the first corner to maintain position. Smith was able to move into 15th though on lap eight following en excursion for Aaron Williamson.
After making some changes to his car’s set-up for Sunday’s 10th round, the Telford driver managed to put together a very impressive first few laps to climb from the ninth row of the grid into 12th position overall and he looked set for a strong top 10 challenge.
Unfortunately though, on lap six, a moment at Barcroft sent his Clio slewing across the grass at high speed. When he recovered to the track, Smith made his way to the pits and with four flat-spotted tyres he opted to retire.
“It was a shame Rob had the off in the second race, he’d been going really well up to that point and looked like he could have taken another top 10 away”, said Brookes, “It was quite a tough weekend for him but, like with the Ginettas, we’re determined to be back where we should be at Snetterton.”
Norfolk’s Snetterton 300 Circuit will host rounds 15, 16 and 17 of the Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup and rounds 11 and 12 of the Renault UK Clio Cup six weeks from now on 3rd/4th August.
Provisional 2013 Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup Driver Standings (after Rd14):
2nd Carl Breeze, 326pts; 4th Mark Davies, 254pts; 7th Jamie Orton, 196pts
Provisional 2013 Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup Team Standings (after Rd14):
3rd Total Control Racing, 627pts
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup Driver Standings (after Rd10):
14th Rob Smith, 78pts