DREAM START FOR COOK AND BTC RACING WITH DOUBLE VICTORY
Thruxton specialist Josh Cook got the 2021 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship off to a dream start for BTC Racing at the flat-out Hampshire track on Sunday (9 May) – taking two impressive back-to-back victories in rounds one and two of the new season.
Lining-up on the front row of the grid, having qualified just 0.053s off the pace of pole-sitter Ash Sutton, Cook was leap-frogged by the rear-wheel drive BMW of Colin Turkington but quickly hit back to re-take second into the complex. As he did so, Sutton spun out of the lead after contact from Turkington, and Cook immediately swept past into first place before the Safety Car was deployed following an incident in the pack behind.
Racing resumed on lap seven and Cook didn’t put a wheel wrong, setting the fastest lap of the session on his way to a fantastic and well controlled 2.3 second winning margin at the end of 19 laps.
Eleventh-hour call-up for the squad, Dan Cammish raced superbly after slicing through from 12th on the grid to finish fifth, third in the Independents Trophy, before being elevated to fourth overall following a post-race penalty for Turkington. In a particularly impressive moment during the encounter, the BTC driver gained two places in one move, slicing past the duelling Jason Plato and Rory Butcher as the trio exited Seagrave.
From 17th on the grid, PHSC with BTC Racing driver Jade Edwards battled in the thick of the midfield action throughout and lapped competitively. Although edged back to 21st at one stage, she fought back well and concluded her first race with the squad inside the top 20, 14th in the Independents and fourth in the Jack Sears Trophy.
Cook started round two from pole thanks to his earlier win and, even with 75kg of success ballast, the #66 Honda launched fantastically as he led through Allard with Cammish – carrying 39kg of ballast – following in fourth. No sooner had the race begun, the action was red flagged after a multi-car tangle in which Edwards was caught-up.
After a delay of around half an hour, the race re-started and Cook led away again at the second time of asking, with Cammish taking third off the line and then making it a BTC Racing one-two at the exit of the complex. Shortly after, the Safety Car was deployed following another incident.
With Cook just a couple of tenths of a second ahead of Cammish on the restart, the duo circulated pretty much nose-to-tail to the finish. Cammish proved to be the perfect rear-gunner, playing a terrific team role, as Cook wrapped-up his second win of the day and took fastest lap once more.
Just minutes before the start of race three, the arrival of rain delivered a major headache with regard to tyre choice. Cook opted for slick Goodyear tyres, lining-up tenth on the grid, but was unfortunately given a stop-go penalty as his wheels weren’t fitted in time before the cut-off. He went on to finish in 20th place, after two stops, but again confirmed his speed with a third fastest lap of the day.
Cammish chose to change to treaded wet rubber on the grid and moved through from the fifth row into the top six inside three laps. Soon enough though, the rain ceased, and conditions began to favour slicks. He pitted on lap seven to change tyres but as the race wore on the rain arrived again. After another stop, to revert to wets, he ended the race an unrepresentative 23rd.
The BTC Racing mechanics made a Herculean effort to repair Edwards’ badly damaged car in the very short window of time between races two and three. Hopes of a strong conclusion to the weekend were dashed, though, when niggling electrical gremlins triggered retirement early on.
Snetterton 300 Circuit in Norfolk will host rounds four, five and six of the 2021 BTCC season over the weekend 12/13 June as the team aims to build on the speed and success of the opening weekend.
“Two wins from three races is never a bad weekend,” said Cook. “I’m over the moon to have made such a strong start to the season. I’m really pleased for everyone at BTC Racing, the hard work we’ve been doing has paid off.
“In race two it definitely helped having my team-mate there with me, I’ve got to say huge thanks to Dan. Taking a one-two, the second win of the day, it really did get things off to a dream start. The car was mega, even with the weight in, so huge credit to the team.”
“It’s been a great weekend, a crazy finish – I’m not sure I’ve had many races that are that up and down!” added Cammish. “The weather was always going to play a role at some point, it didn’t know what it wanted to do [in race three].
“We had great speed from the team all weekend, Josh has had a mega weekend with two wins and a second and a fourth for myself is really good. I’m glad I could play a part in the success of today and I wish BTC Racing all the best for the future, it’s been a pleasure.”
“We’ve got very positive foundations with the car, the team and me, but we just didn’t have the luck,” reflected Edwards. “There are still things I need to work on like my race starts, but the race two incident is obviously what essentially ruined our weekend. It’s disappointing, but there are plenty of positives to take to the next round. We’ve got five weeks until that so we can work on a lot of things before then.”