Josh Cook pleased with Donington but ‘had the pace to challenge for higher up’

BTC Racing’s Josh Cook was pleased with his season opening British Touring Car Championship races at Donington Park, but believes that he had the pace for more than the one podium he came away with.

Cook is in his second season racing a Honda Civic Type-R for BTC Racing, and the 29-year-old has high expectations for the delayed 2020 season.

On Saturday, Cook qualified in eighth, as the second-best of the FK8 Civic drivers, but contact from Jake Hill at the start of race one saw his Honda end up in the gravel and at the back of the field when he rejoined.

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Cook put in a determined drive to recover to 13th and claim some points and a better race two starting position, thanks to a late-race safety car.

Improving to tenth in race two, Cook benefitted from a high reverse-grid draw to line-up in third for the final race of the day.

Having dispatched Ollie Jackson early in the race, Cook moved up to second, and was challenging Chris Smiley’s Hyundai for the lead of the race, until the charging Ash Sutton passed the pair of them.

Despite late race pressure, Cook had to settle for third, behind Smiley, as he opened his 2020 account with his first podium finish.

The Bath-based racer believes that had it not been for his misfortune in race one, he could have challenged for victories at the Leicestershire circuit at the weekend.

“Being taken out in race one put us on the back foot for the rest of the weekend,” said Cook. “Without the option tyre, it makes it quite difficult to come through the field. You no longer have a race where you have an advantage.

“[It was] not the ideal start to the weekend, but we managed to claw our back up to get into the reverse grid draw for race three.

“We faced a lot of challenges we didn’t expect. We struggled with temperature management, so we just had to make sure that we brought the car home and played the long game.

“We had the pace to challenge for higher up I think, and in clearer air, we would have pushed harder.

“I’m pleased with how it went overall. It’s a solid set of results to start the season and puts us in a good place heading to Brands Hatch.”

BTC Racing joint Team Principal Bert Taylor praised the efforts of Cook to recover from his early dramas in race one to end the weekend with a visit to the rostrum.

“We’ve learned a lot about ourselves this weekend,” said Taylor. “We’ve shown resilience to come back from the back of the grid to take a podium in the last race.

“All three drivers scored points and brought the cars home safely as well, which is a task itself in this championship.”

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