BTC Racing’s Josh Cook effectively dropped out of contention for the British Touring Car Championship with a difficult weekend at Donington Park, having struggled with setup issues throughout the day.
Cook went into the penultimate meeting of the season 63 points adrift of the top of the table, and left it 66 points from leader Ash Sutton.
But with only 67 points available at the season finale at Brands Hatch, the Honda driver is very much only mathematically in contention.
Cook had been third fastest in both of Saturday morning’s free practice sessions, but slumped to ninth in the first part of qualifying before then dropping to tenth in Q2.
From there, the 30-year-old found himself in the middle of the mid-pack battles, and in races one and two he made limited progress, claiming eighth and seventh places respectively.
Cook explained that he had been struggling for pace with understeer issues early on Sunday.
“It was very average – we just lacked pace and we’re not sure why,” said Cook. “We were struggling with the balance of the car and whatever we did wasn’t really doing anything.
“Normally our car is ultra-sensitive to changes, but no matter what we did, we weren’t curing the issues.
“For some reason, it was great [on Saturday] morning, but as soon as we hit qualifying, it was like somebody had flicked a switch and we just got a lot of understeer.
In race three, Cook started from fifth on the grid, which is where he finished for a best result of the day.
“It was a bit of a feisty race,” explained Cook. “I think there was a bit of attempted revenge going on from Dan Rowbottom which was a bit weird, I’m not sure what for.
“He seems to have a bit of a thing for just wanting to hit me at the minute. I’m sure he’ll grow out of that as he gets used to touring car racing, but for us as a team it was OK.
“We started to make a bit of progress with the car, but we ran out of races. I think we’ll have a bit of a reset – obviously it was not a strong weekend for us on the whole, but we’ll have to learn what we can from it and head to Brands and just try to get back on the podium.
“We definitely didn’t hit the nail on the head but we took steps in the right direction to solve it. It’s not ideal and it’s very strange for us – we know our car well and it wasn’t behaving as we expected.
“We were starting to get a bit of a hold on it but we’ve run out of races. There have been some valuable lessons learnt, it’s just a shame it’s at the expense of what could have been some decent results.”