BTCC: Croft: Team B&Q Jet York City Racing preview

After their success in Ireland last time out, Team B&Q Jet York City Racing approach the visit to their home circuit of Croft, in North Yorkshire, with high expectations. Large numbers of York City fans are expected to travel the short journey ...

After their success in Ireland last time out, Team B&Q Jet York City Racing approach the visit to their home circuit of Croft, in North Yorkshire, with high expectations. Large numbers of York City fans are expected to travel the short journey across Yorkshire in the hope of seeing their team take the lead in the Teams Championship and we aim to repay their faith by taking some good results. Whilst it will be tough to repeat the result from Mondello Park, where both of our drivers appeared on the feature race podium, we will be pulling out all the stops to do just that.

Last season's visit to Croft was an unmitigated disaster for Team B&Q Jet York City Racing with Nick Beaumont and Joanna Clarke managing just a single lap between them. Two cars - two blown engines - one lap - enough said about that. This year though the team's fortunes have changed around dramatically and the results in the last round at Mondello Park only go to demonstrate just how far the team have moved on over the last 12 months.

With John B&Q under doctors orders not to race for the remainder of this season, the team's test and development driver, Peter Cate, had been standing in for him. However, about to become a father for the first time, Peter felt that he could not devote the time required to the team and has decided to step down from the role. From Croft onwards his place will be taken by the popular Australian, Hyla Breese, who raced last year in the Lotus Sport Championship against the likes of Mark Fullalove, Spencer Marsh and Mark Thomas.

"I am absolutely delighted to be given the opportunity to show what I can do at this level. I am looking forward to renewing my acquaintance with some of my rivals from last year and cannot wait to get behind the wheel of the car. Croft is a fantastic fast circuit and I have scored some good results there in my last two visits; I won on my first visit there in 1997 whilst in Formula Vauxhall Junior and finished a close second to Mark Fullalove last year after a race-long battle."

"Whilst my debut at Croft is going to be tough, due to the lack of any testing in the car, I have been keeping up my track hours with my instructing and I intend to put on a good show for the B&Qsi. I have never raced in a front wheel drive car before but I have obviously driven a large number during track days and whilst instructing and I am confident that it will not present a problem. Whilst the pressure is quite high I am dealing with that just fine and having a team-mate of Jim's calibre can only be a good thing for me."

"I hear the York City mascot, Yorkie The Lion, is going to be in attendance. As anyone who followed my racing last year will know I too have mascots - in the shape of Skippy and Dano - two inflatable kangaroos! They were feeling rather deflated all year but with news of this drive they, like me, are pumped up and ready to go!"

The most northern of the English circuits, Croft is a technical circuit and will demand an excellent car setup and full commitment from the drivers. The long fast corners that make up the majority of Croft will suit the Honda Accords and both of our drivers like the circuit immensely. Jim Edwards Jnr comments, "The track has a superb combination of corners and will present a real challenge on each lap. There are parts that require huge commitment due to the high-speed curves, and then you have two sections that demand that you remain disciplined in order not to overdrive the car."

Jim, of course, should know what he is talking about having got the formula just right last year and overcame the weather conditions to score a well-deserved victory in his privately funded Honda Accord, "In those conditions it was a case of consistency, concentration and finesse. Mat Jackson gave me a right old belt at the hairpin which put me completely sideways and caused me to leave the track and into the gravel followed by a significant impact with the tyre wall which severely damaged the bodywork and steering. This was all entering the final lap of the race, but having got that far I was not about to give up lightly and would have carried it if I had to!"

Our main rivals at Croft are likely to be the Syncro Motorsport Honda Civic of James Kaye - although TOCA have imposed a permanent 30kg weight penalty on this car - and Spencer Marsh in his similarly prepared Honda Accord. The Edenbridge BMWs of Norman Simon and Tom Boardman will once again benefit from their rear wheel drive, especially coming out of the hairpin and on to the main straight, as long as they can overcome the technical difficulties that dogged them at Mondello Park. Mark Fullalove will also be a threat if he can get his car to the end of the race.

"James's extra ballast is a very good decision on TOCA's part as the car will no doubt become even quicker and more reliable in time, and for the benefit of the spectators, TV viewers, sponsors and drivers the championship MUST stay competitive and exciting", states Jim Edwards Jnr.

"I am so gutted that I missed the stunning result the team scored in Ireland. I am determined that we will better the double podium sometime this year so I can share in the celebrations! Where better to achieve that than at our local circuit of Croft, in front of the York City fans that are making the journey ? And what better way to exorcise the ghosts of last seasons visit ?" says team boss, John B&Q.

Jim Edwards Jnr commented, "I am hoping to go one better than Mondello Park and repeat the win I scored here last year. The car is very nearly on the outright pace and with the James Kaye having received extra ballast I am hoping we will be a little closer to his times this time out. I aim to set a good time in qualifying, get up near the sharp end of the grid and then let the others take each other out in the first few laps as they usually do!"

Also competing at Croft is Jo Kraemer who will be racing under the 'York City Ladies Racing' banner in the Elf Clio Renaultsport UK Cup. Jo, 21 and from York, is in her debut season of racing and has received the backing of John B&Q in her bid to make it in the sport, "I am delighted to have Jo on board as part of the York City Ladies Racing Team. She is a great girl and has a great future in the sport. I am pleased to be able to help her in this small way by offering backing from the York City Ladies Football Team."

<pre> Event Timetable

Saturday 13th July 09:30 - 09:40 Legends Cars Championship Qualifying 09:55 - 10:35 British Touring Car Championship Free Practice 10:50 - 11:20 Senior Formula Ford Zetec Championship Qualifying 11:35 - 11:55 Michelin Porsche Cup Qualifying 12:10 - 12:50 British Touring Car Championship Free Practice 13:50 - 14:20 Formula Renault UK Championship Qualifying 14:35 - 15:05 Elf Clio RenaultSport UK Cup Qualifying 15:20 - 16:03 British Touring Car Championship Qualifying 16:20 Senior Formula Ford Zetec Championship Race 12 laps 17:00 Michelin Porsche Cup Race 12 laps 17:35 Legends Cars Championship Heat 5 laps

Sunday 14th July 10:30 - 11:30 Pit Walkabout 12:00 British Touring Car Championship Sprint Race 15 laps 12:50 Formula Renault UK Championship Race 18 laps 13:40 Legends Cars Championship Heat 5 laps 14:05 Michelin Porsche Cup Race 16 laps 14:55 Elf Clio RenaultSport UK Cup Race 14 laps 15:50 British Touring Car Championship Feature Race 25 laps 16:55 Senior Formula Ford Zetec Championship Race 16 laps 17:45 Legends Cars Championship Final 7 laps

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About this article
Series BTCC
Drivers Mark Thomas , Norman Simon , Jim Edwards , Tom Boardman , James Kaye , Peter Cate , Mat Jackson