Doyle Masters Croft Rain ...

For Maiden BTCC Top 10

HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship rookie Michael Doyle secured his, and the In-Tune Racing team’s, maiden overall top 10 BTCC finish at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire yesterday, Sunday, 1st June, during an absolutely rain-lashed 13th round of the season.The 20-year-old Scottish sensation, from Gartocharn on the banks of Loch Lomond, proved beyond any shadow of a doubt he has the ability and pace to be a genuine star in the UK’s biggest motor racing championship on the back of this afternoon’s performance at a track he classes as a semi-home venue.Ending the first of today’s three BTCC races in a superb ninth position overall – ahead of front-runners Andrew Jordan, Mat Jackson, Tom Onslow-Cole and SEAT Sport UK pairing Jason Plato and Darren Turner – the result also saw Michael secure his best finish in the Independents Trophy with sixth place.“I’m very happy with the performance we produced this weekend”, said Michael, “We improved the car throughout and although we had a few problems and niggles during the build-up, in the first race we showed just what we can do when the car is working well and when we’re on a level playing field with the bigger teams.”Today’s atrocious weather played havoc with the timetable and conditions were in stark contrast to the glorious sunshine experienced during qualifying on Saturday where Michael recorded the 19th fastest time with a lap of 1m 28.625 seconds (86.31mph). However, the drenched track and persistent rain acted as a welcome leveller for Michael’s team as it battles the resources of the bigger squads. At the start of round 13, Michael made up good ground and on the opening lap he was into 15th position and pushing hard to catch the MG ZS of Jason Hughes ahead. He was soon into 13th place and a first ever BTCC points finish looked firmly on the cards.Red flags were shown on lap five though after the Honda Integra of Alan Taylor collided with the already stranded BMW of Stephen Jelley at Tower Bend. Counted back a lap, the classification showed Michael in 14th place and therefore he was in that position on the grid for the re-start. Problems with his Honda’s battery did look as though Michael wouldn’t be able to start from the grid but, very thankfully, he managed to fire the car up before going on to make a terrific getaway as others struggled for grip. Running in 10th place as he approached Sunny In, the In-Tune racer then passed Harry Vaulkhard under braking to take ninth. The Safety Car appeared at the start of lap two due to another car off at Tower and red flags followed for a second time soon after. On the grounds of safety due to the terrible conditions, the race was then declared a result.Driving beautifully on the soddened track, Michael underlined his prowess given the right equipment and looked forward to producing more of the same in round 14. He looked set for another top 10 too early on, but a gearbox problem on lap two was the start of an eventual retirement which came on lap seven – the issue also meant he missed round 15.“In race two I had a reasonable start and through the first few corners I had a good battle with Adam Jones and Mike Jordan”, said Michael, “Everything looked good and I think we had the chance to fight for another top 10 but as I came to brake at Tower on my second lap, the gearbox got stuck between sixth and fifth so I couldn’t stop the car.“I ended up in the crop field on the outside. I rejoined a long way down but in the end I had to pit as the problem got worse. It was such a shame the weather caused problems with the timetable as, if the third race had started as originally scheduled, we’d have had the car ready in time for round 15. We just needed about another 15 minutes.”With a full six weeks to wait until the next BTCC event of the season at Snetterton in Norfolk on 12th/13th July, Michael and his In-Tune Racing team will make good use of the break to try and attract some vital sponsorship to enable them to build on the excellent promise they showed at Croft this weekend.He added: “Hopefully we’ll make it to Snetterton, it’s all budget dependant but hopefully the result we achieved today will go some way to helping us attract more sponsors. I had a lot of fun in the car today and I really enjoyed racing in the top 10. With the right backing, we know that’s where we can be on a regular basis.”Action from Sunday’s Croft races will be shown on Britain’s number one commercial television channel ITV1 late tonight, Monday, 2nd June, at 00.50 – additional replays will be screened on Freeview, digital satellite and cable station ITV4 later in the week. Please check listings for more details.

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