COOK TRIUMPHS IN CURTAIN-RAISER AS CONTENDERS CLASH
BTC Racing’s Josh Cook claimed the honours in Round 1 of the 2021 British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton as the likes of Ash Sutton, Colin Turkington and Gordon Shedden all hit trouble.
Racing got off to an enthralling start – as you’d expect in the BTCC – and Cook initially seemed to lose out as his Honda Civic Type R bogged down from third on the grid.
Pole-sitter Sutton held the lead down into the Complex for the first time, with Team BMW’s Turkington and Cook’s #66 machine running side-by-side immediately behind. As Sutton braked into the right-hander he was clipped from behind by Turkington’s BMW 330i M Sport, and the reigning champion’s Infiniti Q50 was tipped into a spin.
Cook made the most of an opportune moment as he slipped into the lead, with the rear-wheel drive BMW’s seemingly struggling for grip. Turkington had by now dropped to fourth – behind Cook, Tom Ingram and Jake Hill – whilst Tom Oliphant was also seen spinning to the rear of the field on cold tyres.
The opening lap drama was far from over, however, with the most dramatic moment still to come as Ollie Jackson’s MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square Ford Focus wriggled as the cars approached the quickest part of the circuit.
Three-time champion Gordon Shedden was unable to avoid the rear of Jackson’s Ford and the Halfords Racing with Cataclean car was subsequently speared across the track and into the unfortunate Hyundai i30N of Chris Smiley.
Heavy impact with the barrier followed for Shedden and the first safety car period of the new season was deployed.
Cook kept his powder dry following the restart, as did Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com’s Ingram, whilst MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square’s Hill completed the podium despite coming under race-long pressure from Turkington.
Dan Cammish nipped impressively into fifth in his BTC Racing Honda, after making the most of a squabble between Toyota Gazoo Racing UK’s Rory Butcher and Adrian Flux with Power Maxed Racing’s Jason Plato.
Butcher – contesting his 100th BTCC race – and Plato – contesting his 600th BTCC race – were almost inseparable throughout the 19-laps of running and eventually had to settle for sixth and seventh respectively.
Daniel Rowbottom continued his eye-catching opening weekend for Halfords Racing with Cataclean by taking eighth, with his final move by Adam Morgan’s Ciceley-run BMW being particularly impressive.
Laser Tools Racing finished line astern with the recovering Sutton taking tenth from team-mates Aiden Moffat and Carl Boardley.
Following a post-race review, Turkington subsequently received a 17-second time penalty for an incident involving Ash Sutton during the opening lap, dropping the Team BMW driver to tenth.
The BTCC will be back on-track for Race 2 at 1435 and Race 3 at 1720, with all the action being broadcast live on ITV4.
Josh Cook said: “We’re in at the deep end a bit here, the fastest circuit in the UK, first time out of the year, it was a bit of a shock to the system the first time when the lights went out but it’s good! I’m really, really chuffed for the whole of BTC Racing; we’ve had a tough winter, but a good start to the year. We’ve just got to keep the ball rolling and try to see if we could do some more damage this afternoon.
“We need to be in this position at the end of the year. So we’ve got to get our heads down! Credit to Tom [Ingram] and the guys in the Hyundai, they’ve really got that thing going quickly, I had to push it all the way.
“It wasn’t an easy race, that’s for sure! As soon as the safety car restart, I just had to keep my head down and try and get those laps in. The guys have got such a good race car set-up beneath me that me driving is the easy bit. Credit to the whole team, they deserve it.”
Tom Ingram said: “Fantastic! To score a podium on my debut with the team, I’m really, really pleased. Big credit to all the guys and girls at EXCELR8 – the whole team has done a tremendous job and this result really means the world to all of us. Having my engineer Spencer here with me has made such a difference, from a continuity point of view and just knowing how to get the best out of each other – and it’s so good to see the smiles on everybody’s faces. We’ve started as we mean to go on!”
Jake Hill said: “It’s a huge result for me, MB Motorsport and Motorbase. It’s fantastic for all of us! For our first time as Manufacturers to come away with a podium at Thruxton – which has finally been good to me – I’m over the moon.
“Colin and I had a good race, he was fair, I think I was fair. I got my elbows out with attacking him again, but we’re fighting for a Championship – what do you expect? When you’re fighting Colin you’ve got to try and get in front of him as hard as you can. A fantastic result for everyone on board, I’m absolutely thrilled.”
2021 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Race 1 – Thruxton
1 Josh COOK (GBR) BTC Racing 19 laps
2 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com +2.298s
3 Jake HILL (GBR) MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square +4.227s
4 Dan CAMMISH (GBR) BTC Racing +9.323s
5 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) Toyota Gazoo Racing UK +11.758s
6 Jason PLATO (GBR) Adrian Flux with Power Maxed Racing +12.046s
7 Daniel ROWBOTTOM (GBR) Halfords Racing with Cataclean +12.607s
8 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport +19.612s
9 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +21.259s
10 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +21.825s
11 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +22.760s
12 Carl BOARDLEY (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +26.391s
13 Jack GOFF (GBR) Team HARD. with Autobrite Direct +26.720s
14 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport +21.138s
15 Tom OLIPHANT (GBR) Team BMW +27.448s
16 Daniel LLOYD (GBR) Adrian Flux with Power Maxed Racing +27.791s
17 Sam OSBORNE (GBR) Racing with Wera & Photon Group +29.846s
18 Árón TAYLOR-SMITH (IRL) Team HARD. with HUB Financial Solutions +31.038s
19 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square +33.636s
20 Jade EDWARDS (GBR) PHSC with BTC Racing +38.774s
21 Jack BUTEL (GBR) EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com +41.015s
22 Glynn GEDDIE (GBR) Team HARD. with Autobrite Direct +41.932s
23 Sam SMELT (GBR) Toyota Gazoo Racing UK +42.886s
24 Andy NEATE (GBR) Racing with Wera & Photon Group +45.545s
25 Rick PARFITT (GBR) EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com +45.928s
26 Nicolas HAMILTON (GBR) ROKiT Racing with iQuoto Online Trading +2 laps
27 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team BMW +5 laps
28 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Racing with Cataclean +19 laps
29 Chris SMILEY (GBR) Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com +19 laps