Porsche Carrera Cup Scholar Charlie Eastwood continued his debut season with his sixth rookie class win of the season and two points finishes at Croft.
The fast and flowing 2.1 mile North Yorkshire circuit is notoriously hard on tyres, with lots of high-commitment corners that require a well-balanced car in order to achieve the best lap-times.
Unlike the circuits the Carrera Cup GB has visited so far, this would be the first time Eastwood had raced at Croft, but despite this disadvantage, the 20-year-old managed the second quickest time in FP2.
However, traffic meant he was unable to set a representative time on his second set of tyres in qualifying and the Redline Racing driver would have to settle for starting seventh and eighth.
“We were P3 on the first set of tyres, but on the second set, which is always the faster, I wasn’t able to set a time due to the traffic. That put us seventh and eighth, so there was a lot of work to be done from there. “
In Race One, Eastwood made his now customary excellent start around the outside to take fourth and top rookie, a position he held to the flag after seeing off pressure from team-mate Tom Oliphant.
As the tyres deteriorated, the Ulsterman found himself at the head of a long line of cars bottled up behind Stephen Jelley for the final podium position, but the checkered flag came just too soon to make a move against the category veteran and add to his tally of three podiums so far this year. Nevertheless, Eastwood was able to take the rookie honours once again.
“We made a change just before the race to help the rear tyre degradation and the guys up front definitely started to go off before ours did. In the last three or four laps we were really able to close down on them and with a couple more laps, a podium was definitely on the cards. All in all, it wasn’t a bad race coming from seventh.”
At the rolling start in Race Two, Eastwood was forced wide at turn two and lost ground to Alessandro Latif. A good exit from the hairpin meant Eastwood managed to get fully alongside, but Latif continued to move across his line until there was nowhere left to go.
Being squeezed onto the grass and the subsequent loss of momentum would cost him a further two positions and drop Eastwood off the back of the lead group. Despite incurring some damage in the incident, Eastwood was able to recover to his original starting position with an opportunistic pass Euan MacKay into the high-speed Jim Clark Esses on Lap 7, followed by a decisive move on Sean Hudspeth into Clerveaux on Lap 8.
“It could have been a lot worse than it actually was, I lost the front splitter which is really important around Croft and it dropped us behind the Pro-Am 1 guys. Once I got past them, without the front splitter it was going to be very hard to make any further progress.”
In the end, it was a case of what might have been for Eastwood, as he reaches the halfway point in the season fourth in points, having slipped behind Jelley in the standings.
“It’s a little bit disappointing, it wasn’t the result that our pace deserved, but we’ve still got six wins and two seconds in the rookie points, so I’m very pleased with how it’s going this year. I’m now looking forward to seeing where I am against the big boys in the Supercup race at Silverstone in three weeks’ time and I’ve got Goodwood this weekend, so I’m keeping myself busy!”
The next round of the championship will be held at more familiar climes of Snetterton in Norfolk, a circuit Eastwood has fond memories of, having taken two podiums there in BRDC F4.