Alex Solley insists he ‘can’t afford any more mess ups’ during the remainder of the Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE Trophy season after losing ground in the title race at Croft.

The Graves Motorsport driver had topped the standings both before and after dropped scores going into the weekend despite suffering his first DNF of the season in the final race prior to the summer break at Thruxton.

That DNF was as a result of an incident that Solley was deemed to be at fault for, which meant the championship leader carried an eight place grid penalty into the first race of the weekend at Croft – a penalty that would have added impact with the fourth meeting of the campaign being the only one this season to feature two races.

Having gone second quickest in qualifying, Solley lined up in P10 for race one when his penalty was applied and was making up ground when a clash with Max Hall at the complex forced him into retirement for the second successive race.

Starting race two from the back of the grid, Solley avoided the dramatic incident ahead that saw the race halted before fighting his way through the pack on the restart to cross the line in P11 – enabling him to add a vital 24 points to his championship tally.

However, wins for both Tom Ovenden and Jack Byrne mean they have now been able to open a small gap at the top of the standings, with Solley having dropped to third spot having used up both of his dropped scores.

“I’m not unhappy with the way we fought back in race two, but it’s shame the race was shortened by the red flag,” he said. “It would have been nice to get the full race in because I think we had the pace to be higher up, and obviously that would have helped us to rescue more points after race one.

“This has probably been one of our best weekends in terms of our pace but the grid penalty and the DNF haven’t really allowed us to show it in the results.

“Having used up both dropped scores, we’re on the back foot and have to just push as hard as we can for the rest of the season – and we can’t afford any more mess ups.”