The sixth meeting of the 2022 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Knockhill in Fife last weekend proved to be tough hunting ground for the Rich Energy BTC Racing team with the all-action nature of the series and the Scottish track taking its toll.
Josh Cook scored points in all three of the rounds North of the border, while team-mates Jason Plato and Jade Edwards were caught up in mid-pack skirmishes which ruined any hopes of glory. The Honda Civic Type R drivers will now look ahead to the next meeting at Snetterton in two weeks’ time to restart their campaigns.
Cook qualified the seventh row of the grid and struggled to make progress around the tight and twisty 1.3-mile track. He finished 15th in the opener and then backed that up with 13th in race two before battling to eighth spot in the weekend’s reversed grid finale.
The Bath racer was frustrated with the trio of rounds. “That is certainly not what we were looking for. The team has worked really hard in the mid-season break on unlocking every ounce of pace from the chassis that we possibly can.
“The fruits of that work were obvious because the car was handling superbly, but we were blown away by the others on the straight-line speeds. It is frustrating as some areas are out of our control.
“Nevertheless, we will not stop chipping away to extract all the performance that we can from the Honda and it is a testament to the whole team that they are as dedicated and focused as ever.”
Plato’s charge from row 10 of the grid in race one was thwarted in race one when an out-of-control rival cannoned into him at the chicane and the subsequent damage forced him into the pits. He was caught up in a first-lap melee in race two which also required him to stop for repairs. In race three, the two-time champion made it home in 17th position.
“That was really a weekend to forget,” said Plato. “I was taken out in two races by other people’s accidents where the driving standards must improve. In race three, I was able to produce two great overtakes into the hairpin and then the others were able to power past me on the exit of the corner.
“It is annoying because the team is doing a superb job in-house to make sure there is nothing left on the table from our point of view. But we just don’t seem to have the power in the car, and officials need to recognise the visual on-track performance. We just have to hope that common sense will prevail.”
It was also a hard weekend for Edwards battling in the mid-pack with a car she said was not a match for the others in a straight line. After lining up in 24th spot, the Northampton driver took 23rd in race one, before landing 20th spot in race two, which earned her a top four finish in the rookie-based Jack Sears Trophy. She rounded off the weekend with 24th position in race three.
Edwards said: “Knockhill proved that the team is operating at a high level, but there are factors that are limiting our performance right now which makes things tough for everyone.
“Credit goes to Rich Energy BTC Racing for working so hard to deliver a car to us drivers which is superb, but it is disheartening that the Honda is so slow in a straight line compared to some of the other machines out there.
“Rich Energy BTC Racing will continue to push as hard as it can, and hopefully this situation will change in the future.”
Team owner Steve Dudman was left disappointed with the results but remained positive that the crew was performing at a very high level.
He explained: “It was a really tough weekend. We tried everything during the summer break and looked inwardly at ourselves to try and find the small gains that we are looking for from the car and after free practice one, I thought we showed great promise.
“However, we had some operational problems with the performance of cooling the engine intake charge as the temperatures rose across the weekend and we still need to understand that far more.
“We are working hard with M-Sport as there is not one simple answer as the installation in the Honda has many different characteristics and design to other fellow competitors’ car design. We are looking for the finest of improvements everywhere and between us all to get the performance back.
“We all as a team, just need to work together on getting that right for ourselves and for our drivers, as frustrated as they are, and we will be exploring every avenue we can.
“You can’t stand still if you want to be at the front of this championship, and that is the position we will constantly aim for, but when we find what’s missing, I hope it will be very evident to see when we bounce back.”
The next rounds of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship take place at Snetterton in Norfolk on August 13-14.