Josh Cook claimed his second successive Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship victory at Croft Circuit in what turned out to be one of the most extraordinary races in recent times.
Championship contenders – Colin Turkington, Ash Sutton and Rory Butcher – all hit trouble, whilst last lap contact between Cook and three-time champion Matt Neal looked to have handed the latter his first victory since his ‘Diamond Double’ success at Snetterton in 2018.
Unsurprisingly, however, the incident was reviewed post-race and the positions were subsequently reversed with Neal’s over-zealous move being deemed as gaining an unfair advantage.
Cook’s impressive double was just one of many stories during this barnstormer of a race, which commenced with reigning champion Colin Turkington out-braking himself into turn one and ending up in the gravel.
With Turkington out of the bout, the title pendulum swung back towards Laser Tools Racing’s Ash Sutton, who was pressuring Cook and MB Motorsport accelerated with Blue Square’s Jake Hill ahead.
Motorbase Performance’s Rory Butcher had also spun out of contention on the opening tour; further strengthening Sutton’s position at the top of the points order.
Sutton is renowned for being an outright racer, however, and rather than settling for a podium position the Infiniti Q50 driver attempted to squeeze down the inside of Hill’s Honda at the final hairpin on lap six. The pair made contact and incredibly Sutton’s #116 machine suffered from an immediate puncture.
Butcher and Sutton pitted following those early exchanges – both ruing a lost haul of championship points – and set about a battle for the fastest lap on their return to the track, a contest which the former eventually won.
The charging Neal nipped by Hill in the latter stages with Honda machinery now occupying the top three positions, and the Halfords Yuasa Racing man began reeling in the identical Civic Type R Fk8 of Cook ahead of him.
Cook – carrying maximum success-ballast onboard his #66 machine – was defending stoutly on the final lap, but Neal tagged the Honda ahead of him on the approach to Sunny-In and he was able to get by. Neal took the chequered flag ahead of Cook, but it was soon clear that the stewards would be investigating the incident with an inevitable outcome.
“I think the video speaks for itself, doesn’t it?,” said Cook. “Obviously, with 60kg in the car, BTC Racing has done a great job all day. I just keep coming back to the mega effort the team are putting in. Everyone is flat out committed and I think the results are just showing what a good job they’re doing.”
“Obviously Josh was laden with 60kg so he did a great job with that,” conceded Neal. “I was a bit lighter, so where I seemed to be able to pull on him was through the quick stuff, under braking into Sunny. I got within striking distance the lap before and he covered me off, I went for the inside and he covered me off, I just managed to avoid contact. And then I got another good run on him on the last lap. I went for the inside and he didn’t try and cover me off, but when I had just committed, he went for the apex.”
Hill completed the podium ahead of a fantastic performing Tom Ingram – the Toyota star having surged from 25th to 13th in the first race and then through to fourth in the next encounter.
“It was a really good race,” said Hill. “Josh was up at the front holding his pace. And, fair play, with the weight, he had on he was still really quick, and I just couldn’t quite live with him. But still, a great result for me.
“With regards to Ash: I saw the lunge, I thought I gave him the room, but I don’t know if he just understeered into my door or my seal, but somehow he got hooked onto my car and that led to his retirement or whatever’s happened to him. As far as I’m concerned, it wasn’t down to me.”
Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Dan Cammish is only 13 points off the championship summit after taking fifth, ahead of BTC Racing’s Tom Chilton – the latter also being rewarded with pole position for today’s reverse grid race.
Tom Oliphant (Team BMW), Bobby Thompson (GKR TradePriceCars.com), Senna Proctor (Excelr8 Motorsport), Stephen Jelley (Team Parker Racing) completed the top ten positions.
2020 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Race 2 – Croft
1 Josh COOK (GBR) BTC Racing 16 laps
2 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.171s
3 Jake HILL (GBR) MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square +0.635s
4 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters +1.087s
5 Dan CAMMISH (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +4.673s
6 Tom CHILTON (GBR) BTC Racing +8.164s
7 Tom OLIPHANT (GBR) Team BMW +8.346s
8 Bobby THOMPSON (GBR) GKR TradePriceCars.com +8.960s
9 Senna PROCTOR (GBR) Excelr8 Motorsport +14.044s
10 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team Parker Racing +14.944s
11 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +16.867s
12 Chris SMILEY (GBR) Excelr8 Motorsport +18.523s
13 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Carlube TripleR Racing with Mac Tools +22.306s
14 Sam OSBORNE (GBR) MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square +22.447s
15 Mike BUSHELL (GBR) RCIB Insurance with Fox Transport +22.740s
16 Andy NEATE (GBR) Motorbase Performance +27.451s
17 Jack BUTEL (GBR) Carlube TripleR Racing with Mac Tools +28.371s
18 Jack GOFF (GBR) RCIB Insurance with Fox Transport +30.616s
19 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) Motorbase Performance +46.106s
20 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +1 lap
21 Michael CREES (GBR) The Clever Baggers with BTC Racing +4 laps
22 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) Motorbase Performance +15 laps
23 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +16 laps