In what has been a positive start to the 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, Josh Cook has tallied two best-yet finishes for Maximum Motorsport colours.
Seventh at Brands Hatch Indy was followed by fourth at Donington Park – a real source of encouragement for the upwardly-mobile Independent outfit.
Cook, a podium finisher in the BTCC, has settled into new surroundings in double-quick time and is encouraged by what he has seen so far after some hard work behind the scenes.
“We’re well on our way from where we were before the start of the season,” said Cook. “We had a few pre-season test days just trying to develop the car and get it a bit further towards where we knew it needed to be – that took a bit of time.
“Brands was quite a tricky one to settle into qualifying. That didn’t go to plan because of the rain and we lost out. At Donington Park though, we put everything we could into qualifying and that was a truer representation of where we could be. It put us just ahead of the Motorbase cars, which was our benchmark. We had three top ten finishes and if there was any opportunity we certainly tried to capitalise on it.”
The man at the helm on the green side of the Team Parker with Maximum Motorsport garage, Stewart Lines, has been equally buoyed by the steps taken so far this season and was full of praise for the outfit’s new charge.
“Everything’s good – we’ve had such a good year so far,” Lines said. “It seems to be that everything we’re doing is going well. Everyone’s happy and it seems a little too good to be true at the minute! Touch wood it’ll keep going as well as it is.
“Josh hasn’t put a foot wrong at all in the last two meetings. He’s driven the car to its full potential and we’ve spent a lot of money to make sure the car would be up to standard with the new components for this season. It’s lighter, it’s faster and he’s driven the wheels off it. It’s not only driving it fast, it’s keeping out of trouble and he’s done a great job.
“We feel he’s 100% happy with the car now aside from the usual tweaks that need to be done here and there. Hopefully we’ll get a little stronger in a straight line and if a few other small things fall into place he may well have a chance of winning a race or two. The car has it in it and Josh can definitely do it – he’s got the confidence to do it and he’s not the type of driver that goes out there looking to finish behind anybody.
“I genuinely think that if we did the race given the size of our team we’d have excelled ourselves. Our performances so far illustrate that the regulations give scope for anybody to be competitive if you choose wisely in terms of what you’re going to do with the car and if you choose the right drivers.
“It isn’t just about throwing money at the job – it’s about being a bit clever about it as well. We’ve got good engineers, a good number one mechanic and a good team in there. We’ve spent where we feel we’re going to see the improvements on track. It’s working for us.”
Cook lapped at last weeks Thruxton test session to gather data and track time ahead of the championship’s return to Hampshire in just under a fortnight’s time, reinforcing that balance and poise at speed is key to performing at Britain’s fastest race circuit.
“It was definitely an FP1 type session for us during the first session here in testing – just trying to find out what the balance of the car is,” continued Cook. “The test should have given us a head start for the return here.
“Thruxton’s very fast. They’ve done a bit of work here again and obviously, they did a bit last year. There’s more been done at Church so it’s just about finding the differences that has made to the lap and the car. It’s a track where you’re flat out for the most part so a lot of it comes down to your straight-line speed and you need to make sure you’re comfortable with the car through the fast corners because if you ever lose any momentum it’s very difficult to get it back.
“Tyre degradation is quite a key factor here given it’s a high-speed high-load circuit. We’re going to try and find something in qualifying, working together with Stephen (Jelley) who’s fast and has been going well. It’ll be a case of trying to get a tow and losing as little as we can on any of the other cars down there.”