Carl Breeze made a welcome return to the top step of the Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup podium at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire over the weekend, 23rd/24th June, with Total Control Racing’s first category win since returning to the championship just a fortnight ago.
Marking the first success in Ginetta’s flagship series for Breeze and the Wednesbury team since last October, the 32-year-old’s victory in round 12 on Saturday set him up for a podium hat-trick over the course of the weekend with a pair of second places following in rounds 13 and 14 on Sunday.
Since returning to the TCR fold for the previous event at Oulton Park, the Kings Lynn driver has finished no lower than second and going into the seven week mid-season break Breeze is third in the championship, just 11 points shy of second place. Added to that, he also managed to set a new lap record for Croft in round 12 with a fastest lap of 1m24.122 seconds.
“We’ve come out of Croft as the top points scorer so I’m happy with that, plus we’ve set another lap record – two weekends back with TCR and we’ve got two lap records”, he said, “Taking a win and two seconds is great and we’ve managed to close-up a bit in the points, it’s been a good weekend.”
While Breeze enjoyed a successful event, for team-mate Jamie Orton it was almost over before it started following a heavy accident at Sunny In during the wet second practice session on Friday, 22nd June. Although the TCR mechanics had his car repaired and ready to run for qualifying on Saturday, the 32-year-old Londoner wasn’t cleared to race by the circuit doctor due to a concussion.
Breeze, therefore, was the sole TCR entry for the three races and started round 12 from second on the grid after just missing out on pole position by a mere 0.1 seconds. Making the best getaway, the 2011 Vice-Champion grabbed the lead instantly and although pole-sitter Tom Ingram was never far behind, Breeze held on without any problems at all.
“I had a good start, pulled away with ease and had a good clean battle with [Tom] Ingram, it really was a clean fight”, said the TCR racer,“On the slowing down lap though I picked up some metal in one of the tyres and we had to replace that for an old tyre from Thruxton for race two, so I was always struggling for grip in that race.”
Despite the grip problems he experienced in the first of Sunday’s races, Breeze did manage to hold the lead until lap six when Ingram produced a late dive up the inside at the hairpin. Quickly coming under pressure for second from Tom Sharp, Breeze managed to fend him off but on lap 13, again at the hairpin, the championship leader hit the rear of the TCR Ginetta G55 and pitched it into a spin.
Breeze recovered well to only slip to third place but, post-race, officials penalised Sharp for the contact and switched the positions – moving Breeze back into second and demoting his title rival back to third.
Beginning round 14 from third on the ‘reverse grid’, Breeze made a good start and had to settle for third initially but at Clervaux pole-sitter Colin White ran wide and so Breeze took second. Pressuring race leader Sharp massively, but mindful of pressure from Ingram behind, the TCR man had to settle for the runner-up spot again – just over a second covering the top three at the chequered flag.
Rounds 15, 16 and 17 of the 2012 Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup will take place at Breeze’s home track, Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk, seven weeks from now on 11th/12th August where Orton will also make his racing return.
2012 Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup Driver Standings (after Rd14):
3rd Carl Breeze, 349pts; 10th Jamie Orton, 137pts
Photo Credit: Jakob Ebrey (http://www.jakobebrey.com)