Jak Crawford was a driver on the move in the Barcelona Sprint Race, going from P9 on the grid to ending up fourth following DAMS Lucas Oil teammate Juan Manuel Correa’s post-race penalty.

The American driver saved his powder to the end to make a late climb up the points-paying positions with better tyre wear than those around him to score some valuable points.

He was very pleased with is efforts and after stepping out of the car, indicated it was hardly a fluke, with DAMS believing they have great speed in the races in 2024.

“It was a very good race for us, the start was unfortunate, just had a mispositioning and lost out to Paul and Isack on the first lap, losing a place overall even after passing Franco. After that I saw everyone was pushing very hard, battling away so I just sat back, saved my tyres.

“Then into the final two laps of the race, I passed Isack and caught the group in front with very strong pace. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get past Gabriel Bortoleto, who kind of fell off the cliff at the very end a lot, so I had a couple of tries at Gabriel, but it wasn’t enough.

“Overall, it was a good race for us, good pace but I think we have some of the best race pace in the field, and it gives us confidence going into the race, and the pace has been there a lot this season.”

Crawford made a late-race climb up the order having saved the best of his tyres for the end
Crawford made a late-race climb up the order having saved the best of his tyres for the end

With Crawford set to go from second on the grid in the Feature Race on Sunday, the Aston Martin Development Driver believes he is in a great place to fight for victory.

While he is wary of pole sitter Paul Aron in the Hitech Pulse-Eight, Crawford says that he and the team are going from higher up the order than has been the case in recent rounds, which could make all the difference in the end.

“We’ve always said we just needed a clean Qualifying and we’ll be up there and that’s exactly what happened. We were up there fighting for Pole, but we know our strength is in the race.

“We were happy with a top 10 because we knew we could fight for the win from there, but especially starting on the front row, it’s great. But we can’t underestimate other people around us, Paul especially looked really quick.”

READ MORE: Juan Manuel Correa and several others penalised after Barcelona Sprint Race

Crawford was one of the drivers that saved their Hard Pirelli tyres to use the rest of the grip in the latter stages of the Sprint to good effect.

He says that the task will be even more difficult on Sunday, with the balancing act between defending position and saving tyres always tricky to manage.

“Tyre management will be really tricky. It’s a very tough dynamic and today was a bit like in Bahrain where there’s less overtaking on tracks that are very abrasive. It’s very hot this weekend, so we struggle both thermally and with the tyres in general, so those first couple of laps are really tough.

DAMS have good race pace according to the American driver heading into Sunday
DAMS have good race pace according to the American driver heading into Sunday

“You have drivers around you really going for it and you want to keep your position, but you also don’t want to lose the tyres, so for me I just picked off Antonelli and then in the last 10 laps, I saw the pack ahead and they were fighting a bit.

“With all the fighting, you use the tyres a lot more, so it was better to come back at people at the end of the race, and that’s what we did. The team were actually pushing me to get on the podium because I had quite a bit more pace when I caught the guys ahead, but unfortunately it was just too tricky to pass.”

READ MORE: SPRINT RACE: Martins takes first win of 2024 in Barcelona

Looking ahead to his chances on Sunday, Crawford says that he will be eager to make the most of his front row start but acknowledges he may need to be patient in order to make his strategy work.

Of course, with rain predicted to be around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in the morning, grip levels and starting tyres could change in an instant.

“Starts are very important but it doesn’t always make the race around here. As we saw today, I was able to come back through. Strategy is going to be very important. We want to take this tyre a long way because the soft is quite a quick tyre around this place, but we could struggle with the graining quite easily and we saw that during the test.

“Maybe we have some weather arriving and playing into things, so we’ll play it by ear, but it should be a good race for us, and we should have some good speed.”