MARK Wakefield made a trademark surge through the field to keep alive his hopes of winning a title this season.

A sluggish start to the second race during the Volkswagen Racing Cup’s fifth round at Croft on Sunday left him trailing at the back of the field on the opening lap.

However he recovered brilliantly to claim a third podium finish in 2019 – his first not on the top step.

“I was exactly where I didn’t want to be,” said the 21-year-old afterwards.

“But I knew I had 20 minutes to pull something out of the bag and salvage something from another difficult weekend.

“I’m made up to finish third; I can overtake, and the other guys know that I’ll find a way past them!”

The 21-year-old from Weaverham in Northwich owed a debt of gratitude to engineers from Kingsley-based HSG Sport for repairing damage to his VW Golf sustained the previous day.

He had qualified fourth fastest, and applied pressure to Owen Walton’s Audi TT ahead during the early stages of the first sprint at the North Yorkshire circuit.

However a miscalculation at the chicane saw him collide with a tyre stack, crumpling the car’s front bumper and affecting its steering alignment.

He crossed the line in eighth place.

“I made a mistake and I hold up my hands,” said Wakefield.

“The only chance I had of passing Owen, who was so much faster in a straight line, was to get a good exit out of the chicane and try to squeeze past under braking at Tower.

“But I went in too straight and ended up smashing the front wing into a million pieces – I think a bit more fell off on every lap after that before the finish.”

Wakefield occupies second spot in the standings with two rounds left, 38 points adrift of Walton.

However a distance between them is much narrower when dropped scores – every driver in the series has their lowest-scoring race removed from his total – are taken into account.

The sixth round takes place at Brands Hatch, in Kent, next month.