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Josh Cook joins list of BTCC race winners

Josh Cook has won his first ever Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race with a commanding drive from pole position in the Donington Park opener.

The Power Maxed TAG Racing star had to fend off an early charge from fellow front-row starter Chris Smiley, who he briefly lost the lead to through the Craner Curves on the first lap, but the Vauxhall Astra man immediately fought back to retake the advantage.

Cook would never look back as Smiley became the cork in the bottle, having elected to run the Dunlop harder tyre compound in race one. Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Dan Cammish nipped by Smiley, as did Sam Tordoff’s Ford Focus RS and a gaggle of others, but BTC Norlin Racing’s Smiley eventually settled down in seventh.

Challenges from Tom Chilton and Colin Turkington fell away on lap two and four respectively as the Craner Curves caught out both experienced racers. Chilton’s Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher Ford slid across the grass as he was challenging for a podium, whilst Turkington’s BMW went off after contact with Senna Proctor’s Vauxhall. 

Tordoff’s podium hopes were next to go up in smoke as his Team GardX Racing with Motorbase Ford retired in the pitlane with an unknown electrical problem.

Suddenly it was Aiden Moffat, Brett Smith and James Cole tussling for the final spot on the rostrum as the rather surprising looking top five wowed the big crowd at the Leicestershire circuit.

Cammish’s challenge faded as the race drew to a close, leaving Cook to cross the finish line well clear of his rivals. Cook becomes the 19th different race winner on the 2018 BTCC grid, whilst Power Maxed TAG Racing are the first team to win twice this season – following Proctor’s breakthrough victory at Brands Hatch last time out.

“It’s a little bit easier starting from the front, that’s for sure!” enthused Cook. “I’m over the moon for the guys and everyone who’s put all the hard work in. Senna (Proctor) got his last weekend and I needed mine. We were quick yesterday and I had to battle for the lead. The car was a little loose to start with and a slow start left me a little vulnerable. Chris (Smiley) gave me enough room and I managed to get the place back after losing out at the start.

“I’m really glad to have brought it home. As soon as the car settled and the rear calmed down, it was just a case of managing the tyres and managing the gap. It was nice to get a backmarker between us and Dan (Cammish) towards the end of the race. Hopefully it’s the first of many! We’ve always had strong pace over the years but there’s been a bit of bad luck perhaps. We’ve worked so hard over the winter to make sure we’ve nailed our qualifying setup and the Vauxhall’s an amazing drive now – the best car I’ve driven out of the box and every thanks to my engineers for it!”

Yorkshireman Cammish claimed second, securing a maiden trophy score for both the driver and the all-new Honda Civic Type R, whilst Laser Tools Racing’s Moffat completed the podium, from Smith and Cole.

“It’s a great moment for myself and the team,” said Cammish. “We’ve worked very hard to get ourselves here. The FK8 is still a new baby and we’re learning about it all the time. All credit to Josh (Cook) for that win. I don’t think he made a single mistake. It was more like a Porsche race once things started to shake themselves out – every lap counted and I couldn’t break his spirit. We were well clear of third, so it was just about bringing the car home and seeing what we can go and do this afternoon.
 
“I’m still learning about starts as it’s different to what I’m used to with the front-wheel drive. I had to get Smiley early as he had the hard tyres on and I did it with a good move early on. I then set about chasing Josh (Cook). He went into a gear I couldn’t quite get to in the end. We’ll look into our data and come back fighting later on. Brands was a funny one for us all. It was a day of gambling and we weren’t quite in the sweet spot. We’re closer to that now and myself and Matt (Neal) are trying to find that bit more.”
 
Moffat’s podium was another performance of note as the Scotsman has steadily worked himself into becoming a regular contender in Britain’s toughest motor racing series. 
 
“A great result for myself and the team,” he enthused. “We were a bit deflated after Brands but the nature of the BTCC with the close action-packed racing means anything can happen. You dust yourself down and get back up, and that’s exactly what we’ve done. There’s still some life in the old Mercedes yet! We’ve changed a lot on the car over the winter and the guys have been working very hard on it, to say the least.”

Matt Neal produced a storming drive from 17th on the grid to take sixth at the finish, with Smiley and Proctor close behind. 

Tom Oliphant took a career-best ninth place, whilst the recovering Turkington rounded out the top ten. Turkington’s final pass was by his Team BMW team-mate Rob Collard, although the latter still enjoyed a stellar display from 25th on the grid.

2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Round 4 – Donington Park

Josh COOK (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing 16 laps
Dan CAMMISH (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +3.449s
3 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +5.520s
Brett SMITH (GBR) WIX Racing with Eurotech +6.105s
James COLE (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +11.642s
Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +13.489s
Chris SMILEY (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +16.971s
8 Senna PROCTOR (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +17.176s
9 Tom OLIPHANT (GBR) Ciceley Motorsport +17.995s
10 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +18.464s
11 Rob COLLARD (GBR) Team BMW +18.844s
12 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +24.430s
13 Jack GOFF (GBR) WIX Racing with Eurotech +24.568s
14 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +25.090s
15 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing +25.466s
16 Tom BOARDMAN (GBR) AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing +25.896s
17 Jake HILL (GBR) Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing +32.319s
18 James NASH (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +32.778s
19 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) AmD with Cobra Exhausts +33.948s
20 Bobby THOMPSON (GBR) Team HARD with Trade Price Cars +34.207s
21 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +34.209s
22 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing +34.382s
23 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport +34.610s
24 Michael CAINE (GBR) Team HARD with Trade Price Cars +35.287s
25 Jason PLATO (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +36.096s
26 Josh PRICE (GBR) Autoglym Academy Racing +36.791s
27 Mike BUSHELL (GBR) Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing +44.410s
28 Sam SMELT (GBR) AmD with Cobra Exhausts +45.900s
29 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +55.721s
30 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team Parker Racing +1 lap
31 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Simpson Racing +2 laps
32 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Team GardX Racing with Motorbase NC

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