TESTING TIMES: Carl Shield, inset, and driving with his 3.7 litre Ginetta at the newly-surfaced track at Croft
TESTING TIMES: Carl Shield, inset, and driving with his 3.7 litre Ginetta at the newly-surfaced track at Croft

A MIDDLETON-in-Teesdale motorsport racer is hoping the backing of a home crowd will help secure his first podium place this season when he heads to Croft Circuit next month.

The Teesdale Mercury caught up with Carl Shield at the North Yorkshire circuit when he tested out the newly surfaced track in his 3.7 litre race car ahead of rounds seven, eight and nine of the Miller Oils Ginetta GT4 Supercup.

Mr Shield, who runs his own coal delivery business in Teesdale, is currently lying sixth in the championship.

He said: “The circuit is awesome. It is like a new circuit. All the bumps are still there but smoothed out a bit. It’s just great.

“I’ve gone three-and-a-half seconds quicker than I did in qualifying last year on old tyres, so it’s looking good.”

With 17 rounds left to contest Mr Shields is not only aiming to secure his first podium finish in the championship but is also hoping to attract new sponsors.

Mr Shield said: “When I don’t make it to the podium I am always beating myself up. I think I should be doing better but I’ve had guys on the championship saying I’m really mixing it up and right on the pace.”

At 39, he is not the youngest driver in the championship, but he is one with a wealth of previous experience.

He started racing in motocross aged six and travelled the country with his parents competing successfully in numerous events.

When he reached 16, his parents stopped funding his racing. He said: “They were fed up with me always getting injured.”

This didn’t stop the intrepid racer though and he worked night and day to raise enough cash to allow him to get back on his bike.

After a succession of injuries though he decided to move over to speedway and raced at various tracks including Edinburgh, Sheffield and Berwick.

Mr Shield made a smooth transition from two to four wheels three years ago joining the BMW M3 Cup mid-way through the race season.

He tackled his first full season in BMW M3 the following year, picking up ten podium finishes. He graduated into the Ginetta GT4 Supercup Championship last year and although he didn’t manage to make it to the podium, he is hoping this will change at Croft, though a lot will depend on whether his racing budget will stretch that far.

He said: “My budget for the year is quite small in comparison to some of the front running guys. I have to make a small amount go a long way.

“There are some racers who spend more on winter testing tyres than I have for the whole year’s racing.

“Money is the key thing. I have got a few potential big sponsors which, if they come on board, will help me keep on track for the rest of the year. But if they don’t we’re going to have to look at which races we go to after Croft.”

Mr Shield says he may have to forgo racing at tracks which are further afield, such as Thruxton, in Wiltshire, and Knockhill, in Scotland, to cut out additional travelling and hotel costs.

Since joining the Ginetta series, which is broadcast live on ITV, he has been overwhelmed by the number of motorsport fans there are in Teesdale.

He said: “I have had a lot of help from people in the village that you won’t expect and I am truly grateful. The support I have had in the dale is brilliant.

“There are lots of people who are interested in how I am doing and I can be in the bank or the shop in Middleton and I’m getting patted on the back.”

Mr Shield will be racing at Croft Circuit, near Darlington, on Saturday, June 15, and Sunday, June 16, in the Miller Oils Ginetta GT4 Supercup, which is a support race of the hugely popular British Touring Car Championship.

For more information about tickets for the event contact Croft Circuit on 01325 721815.