Maidstone's Gideon Cresswell claimed the lead of the all-new, Club Formula Palmer Audi Championship at Brands Hatch on Bank Holiday Monday with a superb victory in race one. QUALIFYING Race 1: 5th 1:27.144 Race 2: 8th 1:27.408 On a dry but...
Maidstone's Gideon Cresswell claimed the lead of the all-new, Club Formula Palmer Audi Championship at Brands Hatch on Bank Holiday Monday with a superb victory in race one.
Race 1: 5th 1:27.144 Race 2: 8th 1:27.408
On a dry but cold track, Cresswell took fifth on the grid in the first of two qualifying sessions. Despite a titanic, five-car battle for pole, he stormed onto the third row in the dying minutes of the qualifying heat.
Although the challenging Brands Grand Prix circuit stayed dry, problems with traffic in a tight second session saw the QAS Systems backed driver drop three places to eighth for race two.
Under clear skies, Cresswell made a fantastic start from the third row to pass Steven Young on the grid and pole sitter, Rob Lofting on the outside of Paddock Hill Bend. Settling into a comfortable third spot, Cresswell set about chasing down the lead duo of Richard Meaden and Gino Ussi.
An intriguing game of cat-and-mouse saw Cresswell close up through the super-fast Hawthorn and Westfield corners, while the leaders were able to pull away along the pit straight. However, slight understeer problems at Clearways in the closing stages allowed fourth placed man, Steve Warburton close enough to try an ultimately unsuccessful passing manoeuvre using the unique FPA boost button.
Out at the front, second placed Ussi dived up the inside of race leader, Meaden at Surtees on lap nine. When the two cars touched and lost momentum, Cresswell was able to sneak through into the race lead- hotly pursued by the ever-present Warburton- and quickly built an insurmountable advantage.
"I went into the last lap with a healthy lead," said Cresswell. "I knew by Dingle Dell that I could win the race, so I took a careful line into Clearways allowing me to get the power down early on the exit. Although Steve closed up on the run to the flag, I felt comfortable in the lead. I'm overjoyed to win the first ever Club Formula Palmer Audi race!"
Once again, Cresswell launched himself off of the grid to pass two cars on the approach to Paddock Hill Bend. Up to sixth, he immediately set off in pursuit of the escaping fifth placed man, Steven Young. Cresswell, Young and the chasing Howard Spooner were then locked together in an immense three-way battle for fourth. With only one lap remaining, Cresswell pulled off a stunning move on the outside at Paddock Hill Bend, to claim fifth.
While Young struggled at Clearways with understeer, the hard charging Cresswell sacrificed his entry by approaching in third gear, giving him a much stronger exit and allowing him to close on Young into Paddock. A quick exit from Sterlings on the penultimate lap saw Cresswell's number three FPA machine nose to tail with Young for the remainder of the lap. When Cresswell sailed past under-breaking on the outside at Paddock Hill, he carved two seconds out of fourth-placed Warburton's five-second advantage and promptly set his fastest lap of the race.
"I'm very happy with the way things went this weekend," said Cresswell. "To be leading the championship at this stage in the season is a great feeling."