Photo: PSP Images

Josh Cook pleased to make strategy pay

Josh Cook said he was pleased to fight back from a tough qualifying session at Knockhill to maintain his bid for the British Touring Car Championship title.

The BTC Racing man found himself on the back foot going into race day after qualifying down in 20th place at the wheel of his Honda Civic Type R.

A solid recovery on race day saw him fight his way into the points in race one before taking ninth place in race two – resulting in him being drawn on the front row of the grid for the weekend finale.

Although unable to get ahead of polesitter Jake Hill, Cook secured his seventh podium of the year and was able to head away from the circuit having closed to within 30 points of the championship lead.

However, although happy with his recovery, Cook admitted that he can’t afford similar weekends at Silverstone and Brands Hatch if he is to keep his title challenge on track.

“Races one and two were all about trying to make up places and we had a strategy with the tyres that we managed to make work to our advantage, as we were on the better tyres when we needed to be.

“It wasn’t easy to come through the field because everyone has been so close in terms of lap times, but the driving standards were quite good and the only damage I picked up was in race two when people ahead checked up when Ash Sutton and Matt Neal clashed.

“It would have been nice to get a bit higher up in that one, but as it was, we ended up on the front row for race three and it was good to end up with another podium finish. What we need to do when we get to Silverstone is make sure we qualify better, and then we can look to look to score more points from the first two races.

“I love the two circuits that are still to come and having closed the gap to the championship lead, I’m confident about the remainder of the season.”

Team-mate Chris Smiley enjoyed his strongest weekend of the season to date, with a fine run from eleventh to fourth in the final race of the weekend being the highlight, and the Northern Irishman said he was now playing the team game for the remaining two rounds.

“I’ve been strong all weekend and it was just a shame that in race two when I let Josh through, Jake Hill also sneaked past as without that I’d have been at the front for race three with a car that was good enough to win,” he said.

“To still come through from eleventh to fourth shows what we can do as it isn’t easy to overtake around Knockhill, and I made a number of hard and fair moves to get up to where we finished.

“My job now is to help Josh, and I will do everything I can to help him and the team to win the Independents’ championship. If I can get a win then I’ll be going for it, but Josh has had a great season to be right up there in the standings and I’ll be giving my all to help him.”