“It’s been an incredible weekend. The best-ever in the three-year history of BTC Racing. We won our first-ever race at Croft back in 2018, and then to do what we have today is what dreams are made of.
BTC Racing celebrated its best-ever weekend of results with a commanding performance that secured a double victory and triple podium during rounds 19,20 and 21 of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Croft Circuit (10-11 October).
Returning to the scene of its first-ever BTCC race win, the Brackley-based outfit scored an incredible 83-points across the weekend, taking top honours of the highest-scoring team of the meeting. Josh Cook opened up the trophy tally to claim a maiden double win for himself and the team in the opening two rounds, with Tom Chilton following up with the Independent win and third place podium in race three.
The BTC Racing trio hit the ground running on Saturday. During a dramatic afternoon qualifying session that saw two red flags interrupt the wet 30-minute period, Cook and Michael Crees both lost early lap times for exceeding track limits – along with a large collection of the BTCC grid – before a late flying lap from Cook secured a front-row start in P2.
Following a technical inspection, however, both Ingram and Proctor were excluded from the results for ride-height failures – promoting Cook to P1 for Sunday’s opening race – for only the 2nd time in his BTCC career – and awarding the BTC Racing squad with its maiden pole position. Both Chilton and Crees also benefited from the amended results, moving up the grid to line-up in the P7 and P9 spots respectively recording the team’s best-qualifying result of the season so far.
Charging off the line in race one, Cook came under immediate pressure from the chasing pack. Duelling side-by-side across the start-finish line at the end of the first tour, the #66 racer held off an early challenge from Hill to hold on to the race lead. A text-book performance followed as he fought to keep the #66 Civic ahead on the greasy track to claim his second victory of the year and set the fastest lap of the race.
Chilton’s strong start saw him narrowly miss an opening lap melee as Sutton spun across the track in front the #3 Honda. Moving up into fifth, the Reigate-racer delivered a defensive masterclass as he held off the fast-charging Infiniti, before eventually relinquishing the place to take the flag in P6.
A water leak for the #777 Civic prevented Crees from making the grid. As the team frantically completed a last-dash repair, the Clever Baggers-backed driver was forced to start from the pits a lap down. Completing the 15 lap tour, he crossed the line in P22.
Starting from pole with the maximum 60kg of ballast on-board, Cook made an excellent charge off the line in race two. Following a brief safety car appearance, the Bath-racer delivered a flawless drive ahead of the pack where he remained untroubled until the closing moments. With Neal’s lighter works-Honda catching the #66 Civic with just two laps remaining, Cook defended hard to hold P1 before a poorly-executed late lunge by Neal on the final lap tagged him at the complex and dropped the BTC Racing machine back to P2.
Following a steward’s review of the on-board footage, Neal was later handed a time penalty for the move, and the results were reversed –rightfully handing the win back to Cook – to record his second successive win of the day.
Chilton continued his battles in the chasing pack. Carrying 30kg of ballast, he held off encounters from the lighter challengers, running as high as fifth in the early stages. As the laps unfolded the 14-times-race winner traded places and paint with the manufacturer-backed Toyota and Honda machines, eventually bringing the #3 Civic home in P6.
Making up for lost opportunities an outstanding opening lap by Crees saw the #777 Type R make up an incredible eight places on the first tour of the circuit. Pushing forward to hit his P12 target for the reverse grid draw by lap eight, disaster struck once more for the Jack Sears Trophy contender with a misfire causing him to drop down the order and back into the pits having completed just 12 laps.
With the reverse grid draw slotting Chilton onto pole position for the final race of the day, he made a good jump off the line but was quickly chased down by Ingram, who stole into the lead. An epic battle for second then ensued with Chilton defending relentless challenges from Cammish’s works-Honda for over 10 laps before eventually succumbing to the lighter machine, and the #3 FK8 claimed P3 at the final flag – collecting the Independent race win and third podium visit of the day for the BTC Racing team.
A battling performance from Cook amongst the weight-free mid-pack whilst contending with full ballast on-board saw him pilot the #66 Honda safely home in P8 to finish off his double-race winning weekend with another solid haul of points.
Regrettably, Crees’ run of incidents continued into the last race, with a recurring fault on the #777 forcing him into early retirement after only completing a single lap on the Yorkshire circuit.
The weekend’s results have bolstered the team’s championship positions. BTC Racing has moved up to 4th in the overall and 3rd in the Independents championships – having closed the gap to 2nd place. Tom Chilton remains in 7th overall and 3rd in the Indy standings, but now sits just 2 points off Butcher in 2nd. Josh Cook’s first-ever double win has propelled him up to 10th overall and 6th in the Indy points, whilst Michael Crees remains 2nd in the Jack Sears Trophy Championship, 27 points off the current leader.
The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship heads to Snetterton in Norfolk next for the penultimate round of the 2020 season for rounds 22, 23 and 24 on 24-25 October.
Joint Team Principal Bert Taylor:
“It’s been an incredible weekend. The best-ever in the three-year history of BTC Racing. To turn our first-ever pole position into a win, get the fastest lap and then follow that up with a second win with 60kg of ballast with Josh is something very special. Then to get another podium with Tom in the third race is probably one of the biggest hauls of trophies we’ve ever had. We won our first-ever race at Croft back in 2018, and then to do what we have today is what dreams are made of.
“It’s been a tale of two halves in the garage sadly. We’ve had a difficult weekend in the Clever Baggers with BTC Racing side for Michael. But that is motor racing, unfortunately. We’ve couldn’t have done anymore. He qualified in P9 but then hasn’t had the chance to show what we can do from there. I’m sure that he’ll bounce back from this weekend. We’ll go back to the workshop, regroup, work out what the issue with his car is and make sure that he wins the next two Jacks Sears weekends.”
“A massive well done to the team again for all of their efforts. They’ve worked so hard, it’s great to see them rewarded. Also thanks to Team Dynamics for all their help and assistance to get us back to the front.”
Tom Chilton has collected plenty of silverware at the Norfolk circuit over the years; however, this weekend marks the first time that the 14-time race winner will have competed there in the FK8. Having celebrated his 60th BTCC podium last time out at Croft, Chilton is determined to claim his maiden win in the BTC Racing Honda.
The Clever Baggers with BTC Racing’s Michael Crees is hopeful of a return to the competitive form shown earlier in the season. Following two challenging meetings marred by mechanical incidents, Crees has his eyes firmly set on claiming three strong points finishes in the #777 Honda to close the gap in the Jack Sears Trophy standings.
This weekend also sees the introduction of a new ‘top ten shootout’ qualifying format. With Saturday’s usual free practice sessions condensed down into a single 50-minute period, drivers will then have a 25-minute window to set a lap time for an initial qualifying time, with the top-ten then moving to a further 10-minute showdown to determine the starting positions for
Sunday’s opening race.
Tom Chilton #3:
“I look at myself in getting three strong top-ten finishes, with two sixes and finishing off with a third-place on the podium is great. Good, solid points.
“I got an epic start in the last race and pulled away to get a nice gap to Ingram and Cammish to turn 1. I knew I needed that buffer as we made some changes to the car to make it quicker at the end of the race but it got significantly colder than I expected and I had a very loose car. It probably looked spectacular on the TV but it was easy to make a mistake.
“I collected some solid points, got some silverware, and I got the Independents as well. We keep picking up points and gaining more momentum as the year goes on. It’s just a shame that it’s coming to the end. We haven’t got much longer left. Snetterton is a great circuit and Brands is my local so I’m very excited to do the last two rounds.”
Josh Cook #66:
“We came out of the blocks quite quickly in free practice. We’ve worked on the engine and other bits and pieces since Silverstone. Everything that we’ve done has been positive. We’ve taken a step forward on the power train and we’re still testing stuff set-up wise. We were fairly confident after FP2 that we’d be somewhere in the mix in the dry in qualifying. As soon as it rained we didn’t know what to expect, so pole position was a great result.
“Race 1 was a great lights-to-flag victory, and with the fastest lap. We had the maximum ballast for race two so I just needed to control it. Jake [Hill] caught me a little bit, so I backed him up to Ash [Sutton] and left them to battle it out. So when Matt Neal tapped me out of the way it was a bit of a kick in the teeth as we didn’t get to celebrate over the line. It was just a shame as this weekend was my first, and the team’s first, double win. And also the team’s first pole position in qualifying.
“It was nice to have a selection of decent results and to get something that we deserve this year. I think we’ve taken a turn. We’ve developed things and we’re on the front foot rather than the back foot.”
Michael Crees #777:
“Sadly the car let me down all weekend and has ruined my Jack Sears Trophy hopes. I just hope that Bobby Thompson is ok. It helps to put it into perspective when you see big accidents like that. I’ve had a frustrating weekend, especially after Silverstone. But, you need to keep what’s important in mind.”
Qualifying: Tom Chilton #3: P7, Josh Cook #66: P1, Michael Crees #777: P9
Round 19: Tom Chilton #3: P6, Josh Cook #66: P1, Michael Crees #777: P22
Round 20: Tom Chilton #3: P6, Josh Cook #66: P1, Michael Crees #777: DNF
Round 21: Tom Chilton #3: P3, Josh Cook #66: P8, Michael Crees #777: DNF