Back-to-back wins for Josh Cook were the highlight of a remarkable weekend of Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship action at Brands Hatch for leading independent team Rich Energy BTC Racing.
After lining-up on the third row of the grid following Saturday’s dry qualifying session, Cook showed his mastery of Sunday’s damp conditions at the iconic Kent venue to head the field in both of the first two races. Then, being drawn in 12th spot for the reversed grid finale, the Honda Civic Type R racer managed to battle his way up to eighth position to leave the meeting as the biggest scorer over the trio of rounds.
Cook’s performance means he is just eight marks off the drivers’ championship summit after six rounds, whilst further points finishes for Jason Plato and Jade Edwards have helped the Rich Energy BTC Racing team to vault to the head of the Independent Teams’ Championship.
However, the 30-year-old racer Cook is refusing to get carried away despite being the only driver on the grid to have won more than once in the contest so far.
“Two wins and a decent points score in the reversed grid race is a great weekend’s return,” said Cook. “But while the wins are great, my focus is on a much bigger picture in terms of the championship and already, we’re working towards making sure we can keep up the momentum when we head to the next rounds at Thruxton.”
After a problem with the car’s dampers in practice and qualifying, Cook’s team-mate Jason Plato gained five positions from 22nd on the grid in the opening race in Kent before improving further to a points-paying 13th spot in the second race. The 97-time racer proved just how tough the conditions were as he slid off the road amid the opening skirmishes in the final race, but he has seen some signs of encouragement.
“Overall, I am not worried about my pace: We just need the balls to roll my way a bit in terms of luck,” said the two-time title winner. “I made an error in race three, but my speed in race one and race two was strong.
“After our issues on Saturday, the team performed a complete strip-down of the car to get to the bottom of the issues. I was stuck racing in the mid pack, but pace was on a par with Josh when I was free of traffic.”
Jade Edwards was also a points-scorer in the second event of the weekend after being in the heart of some highly competitive racing across the three rounds. She lined up on the 13th row of the grid but made solid progress as she was on a steep learning curve.
“I hadn’t driven a BTCC car in the wet before last weekend; now all I want is a summer full of showers,” she enthused. “I loved it. I am still knocking on the door of the points, but the pace I showed and the battles I had with some of the big and respected names in the championship encouraged me. It was a really positive day and I am happy with the progress made.”
With a huge collection of trophies to take away from the second meeting of the season, team owner Steve Dudman paid tribute to all of his drivers and crew.
“As a team we are over the moon with Josh’s performance this weekend,” said Dudman. “We have moved up to second in the drivers’ points and there is hardly anything in it. We played the strategic game really well across all three rounds and we reaped the rewards.
“Jason had a tough weekend but you can see that the speed is there: All he needs is a little luck to unlock it and land the sort of results we all know he is capable of. And we’re all delighted for Jade. Everyone sees the steely drive and determination she brings to the team, so to open her points-scoring account under such difficult conditions shows that there’s much more to come.”
The next rounds of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship are at Thruxton on May 28-29, and will again be broadcast live on ITV4.