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BTC Racing celebrates ‘fantastic’ start to second half of the season

BTC Racing celebrated a ‘fantastic’ start to the second half of the British Touring Car Championship season at Snetterton, as Josh Cook and Chris Smiley secured a memorable double podium in race three.

Smiley was initially the team’s main hope for a strong result in the final reversed grid race, after the Northern Irishman was drawn to start from pole position.

From there he put on a determined drive on the less favourable hard tyre, battling to third, just behind team-mate Cook.

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Cook had started on the medium tyre and scythed his way through the field from 15th on the grid, claiming second in a race full of drama.

For both drivers the start to race day had been more challenging, as Smiley and Cook were just 14th and 20th respectively in race one.

Race two saw Smiley then charge from 14th on the grid to eighth by the chequered flag on the soft tyre, setting him up for the race three reverse pole from where he took a podium.

Cook’s progress in race two on the medium tyre was more modest, the Somerset racer moving from 20th to 15th before his soft tyre charge in race three.

“It’s ended up being a fantastic way for us to kick off the second half of the year,” said BTC Team Principal Bert Taylor. “The whole team has knuckled down to fight back from a qualifying session where circumstances went against us, and Chris and Josh have delivered the goods on race day.

“For Chris to get onto the podium on the hard tyre was fantastic, and Josh did a great job to come through the pack from where he was starting race three.

“We can now go to Thruxton looking to build on these results and try to fight at the front at a circuit where we know the Honda will be strong.”

Cook admitted that he didn’t expect to finish on the podium in race three, starting from 15th on the grid.

“We were out of position a bit but race one was always going to be tough with the weight,” said Cook. “So we took the double hit with the tyres, which was quite demoralising as a driver because I knew we couldn’t do anything.

“We moved up in race two despite some damage to the exhaust and then on the soft tyre in race three, I just got my head down and pushed on. I knew there were guys ahead on the hard tyre, so I picked them off, but I didn’t expect to get a podium.

“The team did a mega job for us to come from 13th and 18th on the grid to finish with both cars in the top three.”

Smiley is hoping that his results, with three points finishes, two top tens and a podium, mark the start of a turnaround in form.

“I knew the hard tyre would be slower in race three but I just took a steady approach and made sure I stayed out of trouble when others were getting involved in a bit of wacky races,” said Smiley. “To be rewarded with a podium is great, especially when Josh was there too.

“I’ve had some bad luck so far this season but hopefully this weekend will be the one where that luck changes.

“We’ve been quick at every race, but you can’t control what other drivers do. I’m looking forward to going back to Thruxton as I think we can be strong when return in a few weeks.”

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