Podium finish for Craven
LOCAL racing driver Alex Craven has had a weekend of highs and lows - ultimately finishing off with a podium and beating Sir Chris Hoy in the process in front of an enthralled Italian crowd.
Now competing in the European Le Mans Series, which is seen as a stepping-stone to the World’s greatest race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Newquay driver Alex endured a tough start to his season at Silverstone, with a non-finish due to a mechanical failure.
One month on, and Alex went to the beautiful and famous circuit of Imola in Northern Italy with high hopes, a circuit steeped in history, notably the great Ayrton Senna’s final race.
These hopes were soon to disappear, with Alex recalling: “Our weekend didn’t start to plan, having contact in the chicane with a spun LMP2 car on my second lap of practice. The damage was sufficient to mean that we could not participate in any further practice.”
The team had yet again to perform a small miracle in getting the Nissan V8 powered Le Mans car, pictured, rebuilt overnight, and ready in time for qualifying.
Come Sunday morning, it was Craven’s Russian teammate, Mark Shulzhitskiy, to qualify the car. After only a very small amount of seat time, the Russian Nissan GT Academy winner, Shulzhitskiy, showed both his and the team’s class by putting the car within half a second of class pole sitter Charlie Roberstson, the teammate of Sir Chris Hoy. This was an amazing achievement with so little running for Lanan Racing, compared to the LNT team of Hoy and Robertson who have had much more testing.
A few hours after qualifying, the team lined up on the grid in front of a large expectant crowd. It was a glorious day with air temperature above 27 degrees and a track temperature of mid 30’s. This was to be a real test for Alex to race at such a classic circuit and to only share the four hour race with one teammate unlike Silverstone where three racers shared the driving duties. The 480bhp machine slipped a place from the start but was always in contention for a podium.
Alex took over from Mark in the second hour and started putting in one of his most impressive performances to date, keeping in touch with the lead of the class and putting the car in a position that could gain from any problems of the others, which was the case of the Hoy car, which slipped behind Craven and eventually retired.
When Alex pitted, he did so whilst in third place, which they held onto until the end of the race. Craven and Shulzhitskiy both drove a great race, setting the second fastest time in class, and only 15 seconds behind second place after four hours of racing!
Alex continued: “At the end of my first stint, I pitted in third, which we managed to retain until the end of the four hours. We were just seconds behind the second place car and had been catching it at around three seconds per lap - if we’d just had 10 more minutes!
“As a racing driver I train really quite hard, and this has been a big part of my commitment to the sport. A lot of support comes from my wife Jenny, who runs the cycle and triathlon shop, Velotive, in Newquay. It is no coincidence that Sir Chris Hoy has made the successful transition from Olympic cyclist to racing driver with such ease, with fitness playing a key part in modern racing.
It’s well noted that drivers at the top level, the likes of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso, keenly participate at a high level in triathlon and cycling respectively.”
With the help and sponsorship from Velotive, Alex has upped his training and recently completed the 24-hour London to Paris cycle ride and is looking forward to round three later in the year, at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.
Links to social media with frequent updates can be found on Alex’s website, www.alex-craven.com, and exciting opportunities for sponsorship are available alongside Cornwall’s premier cycle and triathlon store, www.velotive.com
- 30th September 2016 14:49
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