Rich Energy BTC Racing’s Josh Cook produced a stellar drive in slippery conditions as the Honda Civic driver won the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship opener at Brands Hatch.
With rain falling onto the famous Indy circuit in Kent the vast majority of runners went with Goodyear wet tyres, and it was the BMW quartet – dominant during qualifying yesterday – that initially led the way.
Pole-sitter Colin Turkington went side-by-side with stablemate Jake Hill through Paddock Hill Bend for the first time, whilst Cook took the wide line to get the better of Team BMW’s Stephen Jelley.
Cook made his life somewhat more difficult, however, as he ran briefly off-track to hand Jelley the position back shortly after. As the duo squabbled in the early stages it allowed the leading Turkington and Hill to scamper away.
Jelley was the first of the Bavarian machines to fade as Cook nipped back by at Druids on lap seven, but both Turkington and Hill also began struggling with their tyres by mid-distance.
On lap 12 of 24 it was the slick-shod Toyota of Rory Butcher that was the quickest car on track as the conditions swung back towards the chasing pack.
The ROKiT MB Motorsport BMW of Hill then ran wide at Clearways as Cook nudged his way into second, and five laps later he was leading following a structured move by Turkington at Paddock.
Cook calmly went about his business for the remainder of the contest as the Bath racer took his first win of the 2022 season.
“We like the mixed conditions but what a rookie error at the start!” said Cook. “But the chassis is just unbelievable. We know that the car goes really well in those conditions, and I had a really good car in the dry so I’m just really happy it transferred into the wet as well!
“Because I’d taken the delightful trip across the grass, my water temp was just slowly going up, so I had to kind of make sure I wasn’t going to have to come in the pits – because there was a time where definitely that was an option!”
Hill disposed of Turkington and looked to attack Cook again for the lead at one point, before the young star ran through the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend in the closing laps.
“I’m glad that we stayed out, just kept it below that turn off limit and had to push when it counted,” confirmed Cook. “As soon as Jake got back up onto me, I had to really try get my head down and push, I don’t know what happened, but I suddenly looked and he was gone. But I’m just really pleased for the team. I think we’ve worked really hard and they all deserve that.”
Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com’s Tom Ingram and NAPA Racing UK’s Dan Cammish benefitted from the drama to impressively complete the podium positions, whilst Hill and Turkington had to settle for fourth and fifth respectively.
“I’m really pleased,” said Ingram. “It was just a case of being patient, trying to save some (tyres/hybrid) where we could and almost hoping that other people around us start to drop away with tyres which thankfully they did. Full credit to Josh, he got on with the job early, managed to make hay whilst the sun wasn’t quite shining but was in a good place!
“I could try to gloss it up and be nice yes, but I did have a smile on my face [as Jake ran wide],” responded Cammish. “It was really, really tricky conditions. There was one line and, if you got slightly off it, you were driving on what felt like an oil slick. It was at Paddock Hill, Druids was the same, Graham Hill was the same. Every corner there was such a finite line you had to take. But as a start for Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com, I’m pretty pleased!”
Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport’s Adam Morgan took sixth from the charging Butcher in the #6 Toyota GAZOO Racing UK car, who arguably could have won the race if it was just a few laps longer.
Reigning champion Ash Sutton raced brilliantly to bring his Ford Focus through the field to ninth, sandwiched between the Halfords Racing with Cataclean duo of Gordon Shedden and Dan Rowbottom.
With the action already underway on ITV4, the coverage switches to ITV for Races 2 and 3 from 2pm.
2022 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Race 1 – Brands Hatch Indy
1. Josh COOK (GBR) Rich Energy BTC Racing 52.218s
2. Tom INGRAM (GBR) Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com +0.802s
3. Dan CAMMISH (GBR) NAPA Racing UK +4.209s
4. Jake HILL (GBR) ROKiT MB Motorsport +5.037s
5. Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +7.691s
6. Adam MORGAN (GBR) Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport +10.120s
7. Rory BUTCHER (GBR) Toyota GAZOO Racing UK +10.848s
8. Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Racing with Cataclean +11.670s
9. Ash SUTTON (GBR) NAPA Racing UK +12.509s
10. Daniel ROWBOTTOM (GBR) Halfords Racing with Cataclean +14.385s
11. Ash HAND (GBR) CarStore Power Maxed Racing +15.034s
12. Michael CREES (GBR) CarStore Power Maxed Racing +15.344s
13. Tom CHILTON (GBR) Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com +15.459s
14. George GAMBLE (GBR) Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport +16.222s
15. Daniel LLOYD (GBR) Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com +17.661s
16. Bobby THOMPSON (GBR) Autobrite Direct with JourneyHero +19.664s
17. Jason PLATO (GBR) Rich Energy BTC Racing +20.553s
18. Jade EDWARDS (GBR) Rich Energy BTC Racing +28.181s
19. Jack BUTEL (GBR) Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com +28.884s
20. Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team BMW +29.631s
21. Árón TAYLOR-SMITH (IRL) Yazoo with Safuu.com Racing +34.740s
22. Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +35.759s
23. Ollie JACKSON (GBR) Apec Racing with Beavis Morgan +35.985s
24. Sam OSBORNE (GBR) Apec Racing with Beavis Morgan +36.219s
25. Dexter PATTERSON (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +36.748s
26. Ricky COLLARD (GBR) Toyota GAZOO Racing UK +40.999s
27. Nic HAMILTON (GBR) Yazoo with Safuu.com Racing +47.763s
28. Rick PARFITT (GBR) Uptonsteel with Euro Car Parts Racing +48.505s
29. Will POWELL (GBR) Autobrite Direct with JourneyHero +1 Lap