RICH ENERGY BTC RACING BATTLES TO TAKE SILVERWARE IN NORTH YORKSHIRE
Rich Energy BTC Racing endured a mixed weekend at Croft during the latest rounds of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship (25/26 June), with a second-place finish for title contender Josh Cook being the reward for the squad’s efforts.
With Cook and team-mates Jason Plato and Jade Edwards qualifying 20th, 18th and 25th for race one in North Yorkshire respectively, the trio had work to do in the opener to break into the points-paying positions.
Round 13 of the campaign saw Bath racer Cook progress to 15th over the 18-lap contest, before improving to 11th in the second bout.
The final race of the day proved to be the 31-year-old’s highlight at the 2.1-mile circuit, as he fended off the advances of Rory Butcher to take second at the chequered flag and another haul of all-important championship points.
“We scored some points which was a bonus, but races one and two were not good in terms of our speed compared to the others,” said Cook. “The reverse grid gave us some hope but that was absolutely flat-out on every lap with no mistakes just to hang on in there.
“Our chassis is so good and we have such great traction. I had to be really early on the power and deploy all my extra hybrid power on every corner exit. That was how I was able to keep any sort of gap.”
Two-time champion Plato improved throughout the day but his fight for points in the third race of the weekend – his seventh top-15 finish of the season – left him frustrated.
“We are all working really hard within the team,” said Plato, “but it is frustrating that we can’t put people under pressure. We are driving so hard to make up the deficit and it’s depressing for me and for Josh because he is driving brilliantly, we have a brilliant car and great engineers here.”
Following her Jack Sears Trophy celebrations at Oulton Park, Croft’s race weekend left Edwards feeling somewhat deflated, having struggled to break into the top 20 and ending the weekend with damage following contact in race three.
“Even on the race restarts, I had no grunt, and I just couldn’t stay with people out of the chicane. It was a noticeable difference,” said a perplexed Edwards. “To see Josh get second place in race three is great as that keeps him in the championship fight. We are all out for ourselves initially but, as a team player, it’s great to see. We are still in the hunt.”
“It was a difficult weekend for the team,” said Team Principal Danny Buxton. “I’m proud of the resilience shown, we are all positive, and we are still competitive in all championships.
“The hard work that has gone in pre-season and in the first half of the year sets us up for a really good second half if we can address a few of the challenges that we’ve got.
“We go into the summer break with huge reasons to be positive. We are really pleased with the chassis development. Our engineers have done a good job and the drivers have done a really good job in feedback because it is a 50-50 work split. There is certainly plenty of work for us to get on with prior to Knockhill.”
The team heads into the annual summer break aiming to implement tweaks on the trio of Honda Civic Type Rs and make progress over the two-day Goodyear Tyre Test at Snetterton as it continues its title hunt, with Cook currently sitting second in the Drivers’ Standings, while Rich Energy BTC Racing holds sway in the Independent Teams’ battle, before Britain’s premier motorsport series resumes at Knockhill on 30/31 July.