Brands Hatch BTCC: Cook wins opener from 10th

Josh Cook earned a spectacular victory at Brands Hatch in the opening race of the British Touring Car Championship season, gambling with tyre choice to win from 10th.

Brands Hatch BTCC: Cook wins opener from 10th

The BTC Racing driver’s decision to start the race on slick tyres paid off as he won by 2.7 seconds ahead of fellow dry tyre runner Jake Hill.

Fog over the circuit meant the race start was delayed, and the top nine cars decided to switch to wet tyres.

Pole-sitter Ashley Sutton enjoyed a strong launch in his rear-wheel-driver Subaru Levorg GT and maintained position into Paddock Hill Bend.

Jason Plato, starting second, was slow away and pulled to the inside to defend from the BMW 330i M Sport of Colin Turkington.

That squeeze allowed a fast-starting Andrew Jordan to sweep around the outside of Plato and team-mate Turkington for second as Sutton stretched a 0.8s lead at the end of the first lap.

Plato’s fortunes took further blows as the third BMW of Oliphant relegated him to fifth before he was slapped with a drive-through penalty for overshooting his grid box.

As a clear dry line emerged, Cook began carving his way through the field from 10th.

His ninth lap was a masterclass as he dived up the inside of Oliphant for fourth at Paddock Hill Bend and then passed Turkington under braking into the Druids Hairpin.

He also got by the final BMW of Jordan into Surtees before snatching the lead off Sutton on the finish straight as the front of the grid all struggled on wets.

Hill’s decision to stick with slicks meant he followed Cook’s progress. But by the time he dispatched of Sutton for second, Cook was 7.9s second to the good.

But that gap closed to just 2.7s at the chequered flag of the 24-lap race as Cook had to navigate lapped traffic.

He survived a brief scare into Druids when he was hit by Nic Hamilton.

The rain returned in the closing stages, allowing the wet-shod drivers to claw back time.

Cook remained clear for the win, however, ahead of Hill and Motorbase driver Tom Chilton who surpasses 1500 BTCC career points having started 13th.

Aidan Moffat enjoyed a climb from 23rd to fourth in his Mercedes A-Class – another driver benefitting from slick-tyre grip.

Fellow A-Class driver Adam Morgan was followed by Bobby Thompson and Stephen Jelley, who climbed from last to seventh in the conditions, having been excluded from qualifying for failing a ride height check.

Neal headed polesitter Sutton and Rory Butcher at the tail end of the top 10.

Ingram kicked off the Toyota Corolla’s time in the BTCC with 13th ahead of an impressive debut for ex-Formula 1 driver Mark Blundell.

He finished 14th ahead of the lead BMW of Jordan, whose stablemates Turkington and Oliphand wound up 19th and 22nd respectively.

Plato’s drive-through was followed by another visit to the pits, this time to switch to slicks. That lost time meant he finished 25th, last of the finishers.

Race results

Pos. # Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 66 Josh Cook Honda 21'26.907   24
2 24 Jake Hill Audi 21'29.630 2.723 24
3 3 Tom Chilton Ford 21'30.757 3.850 24
4 16 Aiden Moffat Mercedes 21'39.668 12.761 24
5 33 Adam Morgan Mercedes 21'40.080 13.173 24
6 19 Bobby Thompson Volkswagen 21'40.170 13.263 24
7 12 Stephen Jelley BMW 22'01.163 34.256 24
8 25 Matt Neal Honda 22'09.397 42.490 24
9 116 Ash Sutton Subaru 22'10.159 43.252 24
10 6 Rory Butcher Honda 22'10.414 43.507 24
11 31 Jack Goff Volkswagen 22'12.507 45.600 24
12 777 Michael Crees Volkswagen 22'14.579 47.672 24
13 80 Tom Ingram Toyota 22'14.668 47.761 24
14 8 Mark Blundell Audi 22'15.344 48.437 24
15 77 Andrew Jordan BMW 22'16.951 50.044 24
16 27 Dan Cammish Honda 22'17.244 50.337 24
17 18 Senna Proctor Subaru 22'18.874 51.967 24
18 303 Matt Simpson Honda 22'20.478 53.571 24
19 1 Colin Turkington BMW 21'27.159   23
20 28 Nicolas Hamilton Ford 21'27.250   23
21 9 Rob Collard Vauxhall 21'27.537   23
22 15 Tom Oliphant BMW 21'29.288   23
23 32 Daniel Rowbottom Mercedes 21'30.726   23
24 4 Sam Osborne MG 21'53.824   23
25 11 Jason Plato Vauxhall 22'15.025   23
  41 Carl Boardley Volkswagen 21'29.459   20
  37 Rob Smith MG 17'00.902   17
  48 Ollie Jackson Ford 13'40.502   15
  22 Chris Smiley Honda 13'01.195   14
  600 Sam Tordoff Honda 1'58.860   2

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