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Cook scorches the opposition in Brands Hatch BTCC opener

Sunday, April 07 2019

Josh Cook won the opening round of the 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch this morning (Sunday) with an imperious display in changeable conditions behind the wheel of his slick-shod BTC Racing Honda Civic Type R.

After a drizzly morning, the drivers at the front of the grid opted for the wet Dunlop tyre, and it was pole-sitting Subaru Levorg of Ashley Sutton that initially led the way from the works BMWs of Andrew Jordan, Colin Turkington, and Tom Oliphant.

Jason Plato sat initially behind the front-runners, but was removed from contention after receiving a drive through penalty for a jump start. There was an entertaining battle too between the Halfords Yuasa Racing Hondas of Dan Cammish and Matt Neal for the fifth place.

Those early exchanges proved to be of little relevance in the overall picture though, as the balance of favour shifted dramatically towards those who were on the dry tyres. Cook spearheaded this charge and made short work of all three BMWs, overtaking Oliphant for fourth at the start of lap eight, before going on to surge past Sutton for the lead at the end of the same tour.

Jake Hill was the next man with slick rubber, in his Audi S3, and he moved past the early front-runners to claim second position before the end of the following lap.

During the middle phase of the race, it was abundantly clear that the dry tyres were much quicker and Cook surged clear of the rest to build a commanding lead. By this point, he and Hill had been joined in the top-four by Tom Chilton (Ford Focus RS) and Aidan Moffat (Mercedes Benz A-Class), and more were following through too including Adam Morgan (Mercedes Benz A-Class), Bobby Thompson (VW CC), and Stephen Jelley (BMW 125i M Sport) who stormed to seventh from the very back of the grid.

Cook was to be unchallenged until the chequered flag from that point, though his lead was reduced after he was forced to lap slower traffic. Despite a few close moments, including a touch with Nic Hamilton's Ford Focus, the BTC driver held on to win by two seconds from Hill and Chilton.

Matt Neal ultimately fared the best of the drivers on wet tyres with eighth place, after stealing a march on Sutton right at the death. Rory Butcher completed the top-ten in his Honda Civic Type R.

Tom Ingram came home first out of last year's two main title contenders, finishing 13th in the new Toyota Corolla, whilst reigning champion Turkington ultimately ended the race in 19th. Of the other initial front-runners, Jordan had to settle for 15th, whilst Oliphant sank to 22nd.

Mark Blundell overcame a disappointing qualifying session to charge from the back to 14th in his Audi on his BTCC debut, whilst Nic Hamilton finished a solid 20th on a day when his five-time F1 Champion brother Lewis is at the venue to cheer him on.

Kwik Fit BTCC, R1, Result

1, J Cook, BTC Racing, Honda Civic Type R, 24 laps
2, J Hill, TradePriceCars.com, Audi S3, +2.723s
3, T Chilton, Team Shredded Wheat Racing, Ford Focus RS, +3.850s
4, A Moffat, Laser Tools Racing, Mercedes Benz A-Class, +12.761s
5, A Morgan, Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport, Mercedes Benz A-Class, +13.173s
6, B Thompson, GKR Scaffolding, Volkswagen CC, +13.263s
7, S Jelley, Team Parker Racing, BMW 125i M Sport, +34.256s
8, M Neal, Halfords Yuasa Racing, Honda Civic Type R, +42.490s
9, A Sutton, Adrian Flux Subaru Racing, Subaru Levorg, +43.252s
10, R Butcher, Cobra Sport AmD, Honda Civic Type R, +43.507s
11, J Goff, RCIB Insurance, Volkwagen CC, +45.600s
12, M Crees, GKR Scaffolding, Volkwagen CC, +47.672s
13, T Ingram, Team Toyota GB with Ginsters, Toyota Corolla, +47.761s
14, M Blundell, TradePriceCars.com, Audi S3, +48.437s
15, A Jordan, BMW Pirtek Racing, BMW 330i M Sport, +50.044s
16, D Cammish, Halfords Yuasa Racing, Honda Civic Type R, +50.337s
17, S Proctor, Adrian Flux Subaru Racing, Subaru Levorg, +51.967s
18, M Simpson, Simpson Racing, Honda Civic Type R, +53.571s
19, C Turkington, Team BMW, BMW 330i M Sport, +1 lap
20, N Hamilton, ROKit Racing with Motorbase, Ford Focus RS, +1 lap
21, R Collard, Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing, Vauxhall Astra, +1 lap
22, T Oliphant, Team BMW, BMW 330i M Sport, +1 lap
23, D Rowbottom, Cataclean Racing, Mercedes Benz A-Class, +1 lap
24, S Osborne, ExcelR8 Motorsport, MG6, +1 lap
25, J Plato, Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing, Vauxhall Astra, +1 lap
NC, C Boardley, RCIB Insurance, Volkswagen CC, +4 laps
DNF, R Smith, ExcleR8 Motorsport, MG6
DNF O Jackson, Team Shredded Wheat Racing, Ford Focus RS
DNF, C Smiley, BTC Racing, Honda Civic Type R
DNF, S Tordoff, Cobra Sport AmD, Honda Civic Type R