Power Maxed Racing’s Josh Cook said he was ‘gutted’ to miss out on victory by just 0.032s from Subaru’s Ash Sutton, but enjoyed what he described as “the best race” he’s had.
Cook started the final race of the 2018 British Touring Car Championship from reverse-grid pole, but was leapfrogged into Paddock Hill Bend by the fast-starting Rob Austin.
He then re-took the lead from the Austin’s Alfa Romeo at the same spot, before an incredible battle with former teammate Sutton ensued.
The pair switched positions on the exit of Hawthorns before Cook again took back the lead, holding on until Sutton braved it round the outside of Clearways on the final lap and out-dragged Cook’s Vauxhall to the line.
Cook told TouringCars.Net he was “obviously gutted” to be pipped by such a small margin, but that he enjoyed a hard but fair battle with Sutton.
“That was a really good race, obviously gutted to lose it at the line, but that was probably the best race I’ve had,” said Cook.
“It was clear that he was quick, I just had to defend. As soon as he got me – the places that I made him pass me I knew he was going to get a poor exit so I had to get a switchback immediately to get the position back straight away.
“I just fought as hard as I could. By the sounds of it it was pretty good to watch! It was great fun with it being Ash and we gave each other room – there were so many times I could have run him off or he could have run me off.
“We just didn’t, and look at the battle which came out of it, it was mega. Credit to Ash, he drove like the driver he is and it was great fun.”
Cook and Sutton are good friends and former teammates, and Cook believes that knowledge and trust was the reason for such a close but clean race.
“I know how he drives and how he races,” he said.
We’ve raced each other side by side many a time, and actually in race two we came through the field together so it was good to go and have a battle in race three as well.”
After struggling all weekend with a straight-line speed deficit to teammate Senna Proctor, Cook was pleased to score a solid result and have such a competitive battle in the final contest.
“Given how slow we were yesterday, we really struggled and we threw everything at it,” Cook said.
“We struggled again in race one a lot, and we’ve just changed bit after bit on the car trying to find out the issue.
“I had weight in the car and Senna [Proctor] didn’t so obviously we had a good comparison and I was down on straight line speed.
“That weight came out and went into his car and I’m still down on straight line speed. Credit to the team they did try everything they could to try and sort it- but we just didn’t find it – we ran out of time.
“I think the straight line deficit was fairly apparent and might have cost us the race but at the end of the day I’m just chuffed to have such a mega race and go into the winter with my head held high knowing that I did everything I could today.”
After securing his maiden pole position and race win at Donington Park in April, and going onto win another and score four more podiums, Cook says his 2018 campaign has easily been his best yet.
“It’s been my best year, we’ve had plenty of podiums, a couple of wins. We had more wins than the championship winner!
“So it’s been good but we’ve had our fair share of bad luck as a lot of people have, but next year we need to do our best to minimise the chances of that bad luck taking its toll on our campaign and get our head down and see what we can do.”