BTC Racing’s Josh Cook says that his ongoing speed issues are ‘beyond a joke now’ after the Honda driver could only qualify in 22nd for the opening British Touring Car Championship race at Snetterton.
Cook, who runs with the TOCA-badged M-Sport engine, struggled for straight-line speed all day on Saturday, being bottom of all of the speed traps in first practice, in the bottom five of all speed traps in second practice and again in the slowest half dozen cars in the qualifying figures.
The 31-year-old sits fifth in the drivers’ championship standings thanks in large part to early-season success at Brands Hatch Indy and Thruxton, neither circuit requiring long periods of heavy acceleration from slow-speed corners.
As a result of his championship position, Cook should have had six seconds of hybrid boost available to him in qualifying, in contrast to team-mate Jason Plato’s full 15-second allowance, which Cook says has helped to mask the speed issue in Plato’s car so far this weekend.
But in qualifying, Cook also suffered from a failure of his hybrid system along with a throttle body issue, leaving him almost 1.5 seconds off the pace.
“Of course there are always differences in engines, we know that,” said Cook to TouringCars.Net. “But even within the team, sometimes you get a good one and sometimes you get a bad one – there’s minor differences. I’ve been on the good side of that and I’ve been on the bad side of that, you just accept it.
“But we can’t compete with the Hyundai, BMW, Team Dynamics and Motorbase cars – we just cannot compete in straight-line performance. The hybrid system does help to cover some of that up – if you deploy it at the right time and get a good run it can keep you in touch.
“But to be able to stay in touch we’ve got to get a perfect exit, no mistakes, get the power down early, use the hybrid as early as possible and use our allocation correctly
“We can stick with them, but even in FP2 I came out of the final corner, saved all my hybrid and had the perfect run through, and I was dead last in the speed traps, but I used hybrid to the line from as early as possible.
“To still be bottom of the speed trap is odd. If any one of us gets a tow from any car we can make the speed traps look better but we can see the difference when we get a tow.
“It’s a frustrating time. I think the important thing to realise is that if the guys at the front had hybrid allocation to use, the same amount as JP had, they’d be completely up the road.
“I’m trying not to think about it anymore. It’s beyond a joke now. It’s quite difficult as a driver to put in the spectacular performances that you need to, and to dig deep and produce laps when they count, especially in qualifying and the races, it is a mentally challenging sport.
“The lap that I did with today no hybrid and throttle issues puts me 22nd, but it was probably better than the pole lap I did at Thruxton! It’s tough to dig deep every single time when you’re tugging around at the back and you know what the problem is and you don’t have any influence.
“The worst thing is everyone just points the finger at each other. We’ve done everything we can do as a team and we continue doing everything we can as a team to find any issue, that’s all we can do.”