Melton racing driver Craig Dolby shows his class in brilliant Monza win

Back on top - Craig Dolby celebrates victory in just his second race of the year EMN-170310-192441002
Back on top - Craig Dolby celebrates victory in just his second race of the year EMN-170310-192441002
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Racing driver Craig Dolby sent out a reminder of his underused pedigree with a brilliant victory at Monza in only his second race of the season.

The Melton racer and up-and-coming Seb Morris upstaged the big money teams by winning the opening International GT Open race at the famous Italian track.

Dolby was given the drive by his long-time friend and racing fan Nigel Mustill EMN-170310-192429002

Dolby was given the drive by his long-time friend and racing fan Nigel Mustill EMN-170310-192429002

And despite a 15-second penalty imposed on race winners, Dolby came within a whisker of a superb podium in the highly competitive class after a characteristic charge the following day.

“The weekend was so rewarding, and it proved a lot to myself that I do still have the pace,” he said.

“There is still life in the old dog.”

Dolby is widely respected on the circuit, and was once told by a leading Formula 1 team principal he was good enough to drive at the very top tier.

Craig Dolby (left) and emerging star Seb Morris take the top step at Monza EMN-170310-192406002

Craig Dolby (left) and emerging star Seb Morris take the top step at Monza EMN-170310-192406002

Yet a lack of major financial backing cost him his chance of F1, and in latter seasons even a full-time drive.

But after the latest demonstration of his pace and racecraft, he remains hopeful of more regular racing, though the optimism is understandably cautious.

“It gives me more hope that I can get a drive for next year because people know the form is still there. I have still got it in me,” Dolby added

“I’m going to work my backside off and if anything happens, it happens and if it doesn’t, I’m still smiling.”

Dolby leads a high-calibre field around the famous old Monza track PICTURE: SCIARRA ANDREA/FOTOSPEEDY EMN-170310-192417002

Dolby leads a high-calibre field around the famous old Monza track PICTURE: SCIARRA ANDREA/FOTOSPEEDY EMN-170310-192417002

Driving the Lamborghini for long-time friend Nigel Mustill, Dolby went into the weekend with hopes of a top five finish.

But those ambitions had to be quickly upgraded after he qualified the car in second.

“We were in the top five right from the start and I knew then if we get this right we are going to be fighting at the top,” Dolby said.

“After qualifying second I knew I could get the jump at the start of the race and that’s what I did.

“I got hit going into turn one, but it only damaged part of the rear bumper and I kept the lead.

“There was one guy in a Lambo who was really quick so I let him through and then I stuck to his bumper until the pitstops.

“We were quicker in the pits so came back out in front and Seb then showed what a professional driver he is.”

The Leicestershire driver had the second stint for Sunday’s race and took over in sixth place after Morris battled hard to claw back the penalty seconds.

A hard-charging Dolby soon grabbed fifth and was gaining on his rivals at two seconds per lap.

He caught and passed a McLaren with 12 minutes left, but the Ferrari of Miguel Ramos just held off the Brit

Dolby said: “We were very close to a podium and I did get into third place at one point when I dived down the inside, but I couldn’t make it stick.

“I was a bit rusty because it was only my second race; I was five metres too late making the move.

“It wasn’t much of a mistake, but if I was in a car all of the time, you iron out things like that.”

The results have strengthened Dolby’s chances of retaining his seat for the next round of the championship in Barcelona in just over a fortnight’s time.

It was also a timely reminder by the 29-year-old as the close seaskon approaches that while he can’t bring millions to a team, he can give them points and race wins.

“There have been a couple of teams messaging me to see what my plans are for next season, and if I can sign a deal that would great.

“I want to be with Nigel’s team next year, but we don’t know yet what our plans are as a group.”

He added: “I do wonder what I have to do sometimes to get a drive, but maybe it’s my fault because I don’t shout about myself too much, I just get on with my job and work hard.

“I can’t big myself up, but on the track I can deliver.”