New BTC Racing Driver Josh Cook on Fire at Brands Indy

9 April 2019  |  Ravenol Marketing

BTC Racing leads the way in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship after a stunning performance from Josh Cook, taking full points in the first race at Brands Hatch.

Brands Hatch Indy was the first real test for the new FK8 Honda Civic Type R’s and they showed impressive pace throughout the weekend. Despite this, a few electrical issues hampered Josh Cook’s practice sessions, although he managed to make it up to 10th place in qualifying.

Race 1

Conditions on Sunday were challenging with early morning rain and light showers, but the team took a gamble, splitting their tyre strategy and opting for slicks for Josh the first race, despite the rain continuing. Although Josh initially slipped back to 17th, as the track started to dry out he had the pace to start overtaking the cars ahead. This was in stark contrast to team mate Chris Smiley on the wets who initially made his way up into the top 10, but was then caught up in an incident on the exit of Graham Hill Bend which saw him go off into the barriers and unable to continue.

Meanwhile Josh had made his way back into the top 10 by Lap 6, was up into 5th by Lap 8 and on Lap 9 he made a massive push and managed to get past the front runners and into the lead. He soon built up a comfortable lead in front and was able to control the race until the finish to bring home a win for the team on his debut race.

Race 2

In Race 2, Josh was starting from pole but was now carrying the additional success ballast and running on the soft compound Dunlop tyre. Although the success ballast had been reduced from last season, it still left him off the pace and his early lead was quickly overhauled by the cars behind. Despite this, he still managed to bring the car home comfortably inside the top 10 in 7th – showing the kind of talent and consistency that will undoubtedly work in his favour through the course of the season.

On the other side of the garage, the BTC Racing team had done a stellar job in repairing Chris’s car and he was back on track but at the very back of the grid, struggling for pace on the soft tyre. But the Northern Irishman is not one to give up and he pushed his way up through the pack into 20th, leaving himself with a fighting chance of making it into the points positions in the final race.

Race 3

Josh started from 5th on the grid for the final race of the weekend, and was running in the top 6 throughout the race, until a stroke of luck on the last lap saw Honda’s Matt Neal develop and issue. Josh took 4th place off him to finish the final race with another great result for his new team.

“We’ve been struggling with some gremlins in the car this weekend that we’re still trying to fix completely, so to come away from Brands Hatch with a race win and the championship lead is fantastic,” Josh said. “The whole team has put a huge amount of work in, and this is a great way to reward them for their efforts, and for the faith they have put in me to give me the drive.”

Starting from much further back, but on the back of a great drive in the previous race, Chris Smiley was not a man to be stopped. He surged his way through the field from 20th all the way up into 7th, showing what could have been if it weren’t for the incident in the first race, and completing the team’s season opener points haul with another nine for the road.

“I feel really positive after this weekend as we have genuine pace in the car,” Chris said optimistically. “Race one was one of those where there were faster cars coming through and we just caught up in an incident that wasn’t our fault but it happens, and hopefully that’s our bad luck out of the way.”

So at the end of the first round at Brands, BTC Racing are leading the Teams’ Championship and the Independents Teams’ Championship. New star driver Josh Cook leads the overall Drivers’ Championship and is also heading the Independent Drivers’ Trophy.

BTC Racing Team Principal Bert Taylor was really happy with how his team performed. “Our expectations at Brands Hatch were to try and qualify inside the top ten and to then race there, as we have only had limited time with the cars so far,” he admitted. “To now be heading home leading all four championships is beyond our wildest dreams and is a great reward for the drivers and all the team for a job well done.”