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JACK SEARS TROPHY JOY FOR MICHAEL CREES

Claiming two of the three class victories available from the final three rounds of the year, local-racer and fan favourite Michael Crees delivered an unassailable performance to claim Jack Sears Trophy honours during an action-packed 2020 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season finale on the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit (14/15 November).

With the weather playing a big part in proceedings over the final meeting, the season finale delivered plenty of drama from the start. A much-interrupted qualifying session in tricky conditions left the BTC Racing drivers struggling to unlock the best of the Honda Civic Type R FK8s, as they grappled with rear-end grip on the slippery circuit. Josh Cook rounded out the top ten, with Tom Chilton securing 16th and Crees ending the session in 22nd.

A strong start from the trio in the opening contest saw all three drivers move their way up the grid in the tricky racing conditions. Cook led the pack home, crossing the line in eighth, with Chilton picking up points in 12th. Crossing the line in 20th, Crees extended his lead atop the Jack Sears Trophy standings finishing ahead of his main rival Carl Boardley.

With different track conditions presenting themselves for race two on a drying but greasy track, Chilton opted to take a risk on wets, with Cook and Crees choosing to run on slicks. A frenetic opening lap kicked off the drama with the front-runners tangling at Paddock Hill as Chilton powered off the line to take the lead. Despite initially heading off into the distance in the #3 Civic Type R, he was unable to hold onto the lead as the slick runners came into play on the now dry track, and he plummeted down the field in the closing laps, eventually crossing the line in 18th.

Running as high as third in the opening laps, Cook was on track for a podium challenge as he scrapped with Ingram and Cammish before a big sideways moment at Druids dropped him down the order to take ninth at the flag.

An epic drive from Crees saw the Broadstairs-racer pick his way up through the pack to collect another strong points-finish, bringing the #777 home in 13th overall to collect his 11th class victory of the year and secure the 2020 Jack Sears Trophy title at his home circuit.

Another torrential downpour just before the season closer saw the return of the perilous conditions out on track. Starting from the second row by virtue of the reversed grid draw, Cook made a strong start off the line and followed through with a brave inside lunge at Paddock Hill Bend to steal into second place. With another podium spot on the cards, Cook was squeezed wide whilst duelling with Hill on lap 11. Although he managed to keep the #66 Civic from running too deep into the gravel trap, he lost position and ended the final race in ninth.

Chilton made good progress in the challenging conditions, managing to make up seven spots over the 24 lap race to take 11th as the final flag dropped. Picking up his second points-score of the day, Crees brought his #777 FK8 home in P15, claiming his 12th Jack Sears victory of the year and extending his title-winning championship lead to 48 points.

The season finale signed-off a rollercoaster season for the BTC Racing Team. Having amassed a total of three outright victories and four further podium finishes, the squad ended the season placed fifth in the Teams’ Championship and third in the Independents’ standings, collecting four Independent wins and ten podiums along the way.

“We’re all absolutely over the moon for Michael winning the Jack Sears Trophy,” remarked Joint Team Principal Bert Taylor. “He’s had a phenomenal year competing against a lot of drivers for the title and we couldn’t be happier for him.

“It’s been a fantastic season. We’ve had our highs and lows. As a team we’ve worked incredibly hard for little reward. The positions we’ve finished the year in reflects the pace that we’ve had all season. Although we’ve won as many races and podiums as anyone else, we just haven’t been able to string it all together for some reason.

“We need to go away and sit down, look to the future and work out a plan for next season.”

“I’d just like to say thank you to everyone at BTC Racing,” said Chilton. “Thank you to all of the sponsors for making it happen, and to Steve [Dudman] and Bert [Taylor].

“It hasn’t been as successful as we’d hoped. We thought we’d win all five championships, but the only one who upheld his deal was Creesy – winning the Jack Sears. I’m really happy for Michael. I’m pleased that I made it onto the podium a few times this year, and it was great to lead some laps in the last round of the year and end on a bit of high. Lots of highs and lows in motorsport, but it’s been good fun.”

“I’m really happy for Creesy winning the Jack Sears Trophy,” added Cook. “He drove really well, did everything he needed to do and didn’t try and be a hero!

“We’ve not had an easy year at all, but I’ve had a decent amount of wins and more podiums. We’ve just not unlocked the best out of the car this year. When you’re struggling for pace you can only benchmark against your team-mates in the same machinery, and I achieved the best results with what we had. Hopefully that doesn’t go unnoticed.”

“The team have worked incredibly hard all year, under really tough circumstances. It’s just a shame that we didn’t quite get the rewards that hard work deserves.”

“I’m absolutely buzzing,” buoyed Crees. “That’s another one ticked off the bucket list! I want to thank everyone who supported me through this and helped me to realise my dream. I had my doubts if we could pull it off after a bit of a wobble, but we’ve shown that you can achieve your dreams if you keep pushing, and never give up.

“Thanks to the whole BTC Racing team for their efforts, and also to Bert and Steve for giving me the opportunity to show what I’m capable of. It’s been an unbelievable season, and one I’ll never forget.”

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