The FleetMatics-backed Finlay Crocker is in a jubilant mood following a momentous maiden outing on Germany’s infamous Nurburgring Nordschleife (17-19 May).
The daunting 14-mile circuit, nicknamed ‘The Green Hell’, hosted the 41st running of the legendary Nurbugring 24 Hours endurance race, as well as a prestigious bill of supporting action that included the Renault/MINI Trophy for both Clio Cup and MINI Challenge machinery.
With 147 corners – including the notorious 180-degree Karussel turn – as well as adverse cambers, blind rises and an unpredictable climate, the Nordschleife deserves its infamous reputation for pushing both man and machinery to the limit.
It’s a formidable opponent at the best of times, yet a rain-soaked track surface made Crocker’s first sortie on the 14-mile circuit on Friday (17 May) all the more unnerving.
Scuderia Vittoria’s Crocker, backed by FleetMatics – a provider of real-time GPS fleet tracking and management systems – acclimatised well to the lay-out and went progressively quicker as the weekend wore on to end Saturday’s (18 May) dry qualifying session within 40 seconds of the pole time.
“I was told before the session that if I got within a minute of pole I should be very satisfied,” said Crocker. “I was really surprised to hear that because we usually talk in terms of tenths, hundredths or even thousandths of a second on short circuits in the Renault UK Clio Cup, but they were absolutely right. I may have qualified 17th, but the guys in the team were delighted and so enthusiastic.”
Sunday’s highly-anticipated race got off to a positive start for Crocker and his Scuderia Vittoria team, as he made up several places as a result of a rapid getaway and a first-corner incident involving two of his competitors.
The Scot was 12th as the field headed out into the Eifel Mountains but had his race ruined when a collision left him with a bent rear axle and severe front-end damage, including misaligned steering.
However, he stubbornly continued on his way and, against all odds, nursed his ailing Clio across the finish line to conclude his first ever race at the Nurburgring in 21st place.
“Another driver got a run on me once we got onto the Nordschleife and tried an ambitious move around the outside through one of the high-speed left-handers,” Crocker explained. “He bounced off the barriers and collected me as he returned to the track. The move was never on. It wasn’t an overtaking place.
“I was disappointed to have been denied an opportunity to translate the pace we showed in qualifying into a result, but the whole event far exceeded my expectations,” said Crocker. “We went there to do the best job we could and we had an absolutely amazing time. I just wanted to continue driving – I’ve never had so much fun in my life!”
Crocker continued: “I can’t thank FleetMatics enough for their support because without them none of it would have been possible. In addition, I must thank Scuderia Vittoria, as well as my engineer Jay Cox. The experience was so amazing because of the people I shared it with.”
Scuderia Vittoria Team Manager, Tom Ferrier, added: “It was a brilliant weekend for Finlay and the team – it’s an incredible event and it was great to see Finlay so enthused.
“I was impressed that after only eight flying laps, four of which were in the wet, he was within 40 seconds of the quickest time in qualifying. I was gutted that he didn’t get the race he wanted, but we’re still very pleased and want to thank FleetMatics for providing us with the opportunity of contesting such a fantastic event.”
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