Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship title chaser Josh Cook has paid tribute to the fine handing of his Rich Energy BTC Racing Honda Civic Type R, which helped him rescue a tough weekend at Croft in North Yorkshire and keep the pressure up in the points table.

While Cook left the weekend with a runners-up spot in the final race of the day, all three of the team’s drivers were left with frustrations over the course of the trio of events. BTC’s Jason Plato finished in the points-paying positions in the finale while Jade Edwards underlined her team-mate’s opinions that the Honda was suffering in a straight line.

The championship now heads into a five-week break before it resumes in Scotland at the end of July and all three drivers hope that some tweaks can be implemented before the second half of the 2022 campaign.

An ill-timed wishbone failure in a disrupted qualifying session meant Cook lined up on the 10th row of the grid for the opening race on Sunday and he was stuck in the mid-pack. He progressed to 15th place over the course of 18 laps, before improving further to 11th in race two.

In the reversed-grid finale, the Bath racer started on the front row and says only the sweet spot of the Civic’s chassis helped him to maintain his podium form as he was struggling with a mysterious lack of straight-line speed.

“We scored some points today which was a bonus, but races one and two were not good in terms of our speed on the straights 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. If our chassis hadn’t been so good on corner exits, I’d have just dropped back.”

Despite the difficulties, Cook is second in the standings and is only three points away from the summit at the halfway stage.

Plato’s fight for points in the third race of the weekend – his seventh top 15 finish of the season – left him angry at his lack of pace compared to some of the cars around him.

The two-time champion explained: “We can’t overtake, and we can’t put people under pressure because at the end of every straight they are too far away. When someone gets close, you have to defend like an idiot and they still get a run. I’m a sitting duck. Everyone else can get there faster because they have boost. It’s half-a-second a lap we are losing.

“We are all working really hard within the team, but it is frustrating and rightly so. We are driving so hard to make up the deficit. We are not competitive and it’s depressing for me and for Josh because he is driving brilliantly, we have a brilliant car and great engineers here.”

Edwards had a torrid weekend after claiming the Jack Sears Trophy last time out at Oulton Park. She took the chequered flag in two of the three races but was ruled out of the last after contact from a rival damaged the exhaust on her Civic Type R.

“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.”

Rich Energy BTC Racing maintained its position at the top of the hunt for the Independents Teams’ Trophy and team principal Danny Buxton says that the squad will be working harder than ever over the month-long break before the next rounds.

Buxton said: “It has been a difficult weekend for the team. I’m proud of the resilience shown, we are all positive, we are still competitive in the 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 but we are just not quick enough in a straight line. There is certainly plenty of work for us to get on with prior to Knockhill.”

The next rounds of the championship take place at Knockhill in Fife, Scotland, on July 30-31.

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