Century Motorsport headed to North Yorkshire’s Croft Circuit 23rd – 24th June feeling optimistic as all three drivers had recently shown excellent pace and although all three drivers had never been to Croft Circuit before, the team still managed to come away with a total of four trophies and two fastest laps, along with Michael Crees now topping the Amateur Class Championship leader board!
During the two practice sessions on Friday, all three Century drivers were getting to grips with the circuit that is renowned for its challenging, technical nature. All three drivers took to the track really well and the team were hoping for some good results to follow in the weekend’s three races.
Early Saturday afternoon, the drivers posted the fastest times they could, during the qualifying session. Angus Fender flew around the track securing a blistering lap time of 1m23.690s, achieving his first ever pole position. Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke was just less than two-tenths of a second slower than Fender, qualifying in fourth position. Crees, qualifying in first place (Am Class) so far at all three previous rounds, just missed it this time by less than two-tenths of a second, leaving him qualifying in second place.
Early Saturday evening, Race 1 got underway in the sweltering heat. Fender started on pole with Gordon-Colebrooke just behind on the second row. Fender dropped to second off the line and by lap 4 he had dropped a further three places. By lap 5 he had gained one position, putting him in fourth position and that is where he remained for the rest of the race, unable to find a gap to get back through to the front where he started. During his quest to get back to the front, Fender secured the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1m24.287s.
Contact from another car caused Gordon-Colebrooke to retire from the race during lap 5, losing him his current third position, which could have led to a podium finish. Gordon-Colebrooke’s second lap, which was his fastest, at a time of 1m24.542s, showed he definitely had the pace to be at the front of the pack as this was the fourth fastest lap of the race.
After starting from second in the Am Class field, Crees launched off the line perfectly, immediately grabbing the race lead and from that point onwards he controlled the entire race. He had two rivals very close behind him, however Crees ensured that there was no way past for them with a very skilful drive. He also claimed fastest lap (Am Class) along with his well-deserved race win.
Early Sunday afternoon in the scorching heat, Race 2 got underway. Fender retained his grid start position of third throughout. He was unable to push any further forward after clipping a stack of tyres at the start of the race, which had caused damage to his car and left him with a steering issue, putting more strain on his tyres. He stood his ground and ensured that no one else could find a gap to pass him. Crossing the line in third position gave Fender his second well-deserved podium finish of the season, which could possibly have been race victory had he not caused the damage at the start of the race.
Gordon-Colebrooke started from the back of the Pro Class field after having to retire from the first race. He dropped a few places on the first lap and then worked his way back up. By lap 8 he was in sixth position, which is where he remained for the rest of the race, crossing the line less than three seconds behind Fender, making it his best race finish of the season so far with Century.
After starting from pole position in the Am Class field, the lead position was taken from Crees and he fell behind four places in the first lap. He soon battled his way back through the traffic and found the front-runners again as by lap 6 he had managed to find second place, which is where he finished the race.
Early Sunday evening at the Dalton-on-Tees circuit, the final race of the weekend got underway. Fender dropped to fifth off the line after starting from second. After the damage caused in the previous race, the steering issue was causing unnecessary extra work for the tyres. With Croft being a circuit that is hard on tyres anyway, Fender couldn’t keep up with the pack and consequently fell behind, finishing the race in eighth place.
Gordon-Colebrooke started Race 3 strongly, holding onto his sixth position. Unfortunately, his chances of getting any closer to the front were taken away from him during lap 3, as he was forced into race retirement due to being hit by the same driver from Race 1. The driver got penalised on both occasions however this was no consolation for Gordon-Colebrooke who had to come away from the weekend with two non-finishes. He does get to take away some positives though as he managed to show excellent pace, having never been to Croft Circuit previously and his best race finish of the season in Race 2 was also a positive to take away.
Crees started from third on the reverse grid. He grabbed second place off the line and then spent the next 10 laps battling for the race lead. He managed to make his move and take the lead on lap 11. Despite being turned around at one point in the race, he well deservedly stormed across the line with almost an eight-second lead.
The team look forward to the next round, which is held at Snetterton on 28th – 29th July.
“Croft was a weekend to remember. Not only because it was my first ever pole position in car racing, around a track I’d never raced at before, but because I learnt a huge amount in the process that could have potentially bettered my race results.
I was running in 2nd place in race 1 until a small error from myself followed by an enormous lock up left me fighting to hold onto 4th place with a ruined tyre for the rest of the race.
Yet again in race 2, my race would be compromised by a small error from myself. I clipped the tyre wall through the first chicane on lap 1 and damaged my car’s tracking leaving me yet again fighting for the place I’d got into off the start. It wasn’t easy and it certainly didn’t do the tyres any good but I was able to hold onto my position and get my second ever podium in car racing with P3 once again but I knew if I hadn’t damaged the car it could’ve been a lot better!
We knew we’d struggle in race 3. Because I’d worn out my new tyres in race 2, I had no tyres left to hold onto my 2nd place grid start and slowly fell down the field to my finishing position of 7th in the pro class.
I know that in the remainder of this season there’s at least one win in me which is making me strive on to achieve it as quickly as possible! The guys at Century and my mechanic Nigel make this sport so enjoyable for me and every weekend I come back I feel myself becoming a more complete driver. Roll on Snetterton!”
“Whilst I’m obviously extremely frustrated with how things panned out during races 1 and 3, I can still take plenty of positives away from another strong showing in terms of raw pace. I think we’ve now shown that Oulton Park wasn’t a one off showing, and can now look to be a regular front-runner heading into the second half of the season. Podiums and good luck are just round the corner!”
“Perfect weekend! I feel that I really worked hard on focusing on the job I had to do and raced smart all weekend to get the results I needed.It was an awesome feeling to climb back onto the top step of the podium and that was certainly a great way to cap off the first half of the season. I’ve loved every second of it and I can’t quite believe that I head into the summer as the AM class championship leader.”
Nathan Freke, Owner of Century Motorsport:
“We didn’t know what to expect this weekend as none of our drivers had been to this circuit before. Friday was a good day with lots learnt and lots to work with ahead of qualifying.
Angus putting it on pole was fantastic and Andrew being only just behind him was also great to see. Michael didn’t quite get a clear lap but P2 was still a great start to the weekend.
In the end, coming away with 4 trophies and the AM championship lead has to be looked at as a good weekend. I felt for Andrew, having 2 races taken away from him, especially with so much pace. It shows that we have a good package and it is working well with all our drivers.
It’s now the summer break and we will be looking to find every last ounce we can out of the cars and arrive at Snetterton ready to fight for outright wins.”
Photo credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography