BTC RACING SEALS MAIDEN ONE-TWO FINISH IN THRILLING THRUXTON FINALE
BTC Racing made a welcome return to winning ways at Thruxton Race Circuit, claiming a superb maiden one-two finish during an action-packed fifth meeting of the 2020 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship (August 19-20).
After a turbulent start to his 2020 campaign, Josh Cook took a commanding lights-to-flag victory in the weekend finale, with team-mate Tom Chilton crossing the line in second to claim two podium finishes in as many race weekends.
A pair of top-ten finishes for Michael Crees helped to make the BTC Racing squad’s most successful event of the season so far, with the trio of racers notching up an incredible eight top-ten finishes from nine races at the UK’s fastest circuit.
The South-West speed bowl rewarded the team’s efforts with its strongest qualifying result to date, as well as Crees’ best-ever BTCC qualifying position, as Chilton, Crees and Cook lined up seventh, ninth and tenth on the grid for Sunday’s opening encounter.
The weekend opener delivered a strong haul of points for the BTC Racing outfit’s championship challenge. After trading places in the early laps, the trio settled into position to bring all three Hondas home inside the top ten for the first time. Chilton took seventh at the chequered flag, with Cook and Crees closely behind in ninth and tenth, while Crees also claimed the top spot from the Jack Sears Trophy contenders.
Race two followed suit with the squad bagging another trio of top-ten finishes. Chilton was first to cross the line in the BTC Racing formation, finishing once again in seventh, although this time out the squad would take three consecutive spots in the top ten, as Cook and Crees crossed the line in eighth and ninth respectively, adding to the Brackley-based squad’s impressive point-scoring bounty at the Hampshire track.
A well overdue change of fortunes placed Cook on pole for the final contest of the day, with team-mate Chilton lining up alongside for a BTC Racing front-row lockout. Just missing out on the reverse grid draw, Crees would begin the final race of the day from ninth, his third top-ten start of the weekend.
With his sights firmly set on silverware, Cook delivered a flawless lights-to-flag drive in the #66 Type R and ran untroubled to claim victory with an impressive 3.475 second lead at the final flag. Chilton continued his strong weekend form to manage the gap ahead of the chasing pack and pilot the #3 car home in second.
Crees’ impressive progression was evident for all in the final race as the Clever Baggers-backed racer held off four-time BTCC title-winner Turkington for over ten laps, whilst duelling with three-time champion Matt Neal for seventh place. Having held eighth for the majority of the race, a bold challenge on Neal on the final lap pitched the #777 onto the kerb, resulting in a puncture that regrettably dropped him back to P21.
The Kent racer’s performance was repaid with silverware, however, securing Jack Sears Trophy honours for the weekend, and extending his lead at the top of the standings to a comfortable 44-point lead.
BTC Racing has moved up to fifth in the overall Teams’ Standings, and also closed the gap in the Independent Standings. Chilton remains seventh overall and third in the Indy standings, with Cook moving up the ranks to 13th overall and 11th in the Independent points.
The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship is straight back into action again next weekend, for rounds 16, 17, 18 of the 2020 season which take place at BTC Racing’s home circuit, and the home of British Motorsport, Silverstone, on 26/27 September.
“It’s such a sense of relief to get the results this weekend,” said Joint Team Principal Bert Taylor. “After the huge amount of stress that 32 people have been under for the last four weeks, to come here and for the three drivers to perform the way that they have, I couldn’t have asked for any more.
“Josh has struggled all weekend with brake issues, so for him and Tom to turn that around to claim our first one-two is just phenomenal.
“Michael’s drive in race three was surreal. Having a four-time BTCC champion behind him and three-time champion in front of him and perform the way he did lap after lap was unbelievable.
“Today was the perfect payback to the team for all of their hard work and efforts these past few weeks. It’s going to make the world of difference to us all heading into another back-to-back race weekend. We can go to our home circuit now with real confidence.”
“It was an epic day for the team with all three of us on the podium,” added Chilton. “I’m really happy that we got such a great finish to the weekend. I always aim for 30 points a weekend to stay in the championship fight, so I’m clawing my way back from a slow start to the season. We’ve had two podiums on the hop now, which is great.
“It’s been a fantastic day for BTC Racing. The team all did a great job, and I’m so happy for both of my team-mates getting podiums as well. I got my first-ever win at Thruxton this weekend – even if it was in the charity bike ride! But also, my highest-ever BTCC finish there with a P2. It was definitely a weekend to remember!”
“It was another trying weekend,” reflected Cook. “We struggled all day on Saturday with braking issues that we had to battle through. We then suffered a misfire in qualifying which knocked us out of a run so it was a messy session. We were still having issues in race one so the guys changed a lot of stuff on the car; literally everything that they could change, they did. The reverse grid for race three was mega. I got a good start off the line and then just focused on controlling the race from there. I’m so pleased for the guys. They’ve had a really tough few weeks and needed this win as much as I did.
“We need to look at some stuff in more depth to find what’s causing the issue with the brake pedal, but we have to go into Silverstone with confidence. It’s a power track, and we’ve got no weight again, so we should be in a good place.”
“A great job by my team-mates today as well. Creesy has been outstanding this weekend.”
“When is it going to end?” said Crees. “I’m getting better and better every time I’m in the car and it’s just amazing. I was sitting there behind Matt Neal in race three and I had the pace on him. I had Turkington on my back so I thought I’d have him going into turn two. I got a bit greedy on the last lap at the chicane and took a bit too much kerb and it punctured immediately. It could have easily been a real hero moment though. Hands-down it was the best race I’ve ever driven.
“For some reason, I’ve stepped up this weekend and I feel that I deserve to be here on merit now. No ifs, no buts, no tyres choices. I carried 12kg there when I was battling with the works BMW and Honda and kept with them. I feel like this is the next step forward for me.
“Everyone at BTC Racing has put their heart and soul into this. I’m so happy for Josh, and the team. They’ve thrown everything at it this weekend so to get the one-two is brilliant. If we’d have drawn number nine out for the reversed grid draw, who knows, maybe it would have been a BTC Racing one-two-three. We needed this. I’m really happy for everyone.”