A SUCCESSFUL START TO THE BTCC SEASON AT BRANDS HATCH

Sunny and dry weather welcomed the start of the first of three races, engine notes roared, but quickly quietened as an incident deployed the safety before the first lap was complete. A fast start saw Cook take teammate Jelley and inherit two places from the retirees, before joining the pack retaining tyre heat behind the safety car.

The race continued on lap 4, Cook began his charge through the pack gaining a further 2 positions in a single lap. Josh pulling closer to the MG of Taylor-Smith made the move to gain another position, placing him P15 by lap 6.

Next in Josh's sights was the Subaru of Jason Plato, pulling closer Cook gained two positions with a further two cars heading to the pits with mechanical issues. Maintaining a healthy gap back to the ever dicing Taylor-Smith and Moffat, Cook concluding the race finishing P13, a huge 8 positions gained from the start and the first points finish for the Maximum Motorsport Ford Focus ST.

Race two rolled up with a peculiar aborted race start setting the scene early on. Weather conditions unchanged from the first race, Cook was set to be quick on the soft option tyre. The race got underway seeing another early incident bringing out a red flag with a car in the wall on the pit straight.

With the race shortened to 20 laps, a full restart was in order. Cook being fast off the mark quickly displaced Epps going through Graham Hill bend before pulling along side Chilton and snatching P9 into Surtees.

Jackson ahead displaced Goff, allowing Cook to close the gap putting pressure on the Civic. Before any more progression could be made a safety car was brought out for a car off at clearways on lap 11. The race distance was extended to 23 laps as we went green again. Utilising the situation Josh was able to pass Goff into P8 at Clearways. Chilton pulling past Goff began applying pressuring on Cook seeing him dart to defend the inside on lap 22 into Druids. Having fought hard enough Cook secured P8 at chequered flag, with the fastest independent lap time of the session.

The reverse grid draw saw Rob Huff pull P8 out of the pot, promoting Josh Cook into Pole position for the third race of the day, but the excitement was cut short by the news of a competitor being excluded from the race two results thus promoting Cook to P7 for race two, but in turn demoting him to P2 on the grid for race three.

As the sun lowered the BTCC grid lined up for the third race of the day. Lights went out and Jordon in the BMW was seen leading into Paddock. Cook held third position heading up Druids and through Graham Hill. Getting a tap from behind at Clearways saw Collard get side by side down the straight demoting Cook to P4 by turn 1.

Morgan and Turkington on the option tyre took advantage of Cook running wide out of Graham Hill bend by dropping Cook to P6. Contact a few corners later saw Josh heading to the pits with a puncture and unfortunately loosing the lead lap.

Josh returned to the track a lap down sitting in P28. Pushing back into a rhythm, two further cars took to the pits with issues, enabling Cook to cross the line P26 showing good pace.

“Saturday’s unpredictable qualifying session presented a win or lose situation, unfortunately we didn’t come out of the session on top. We went into race day with a lot of work to do but we had a clear strategy that we executed well. The car felt good, and the hard work by the Team Parker with Maximum Motorsport team was clear to see. We went into race 3 in a comfortable position on the front row of the grid, on the hard tyre surrounded by drivers on the soft tyre option. Unfortunately a puncture sustained from contact put a disappointing end our charge to the podium, but a positive day and a taste of what’s to come this season. Thanks to everyone involved.”

A disappointing end to the day, but with a top ten finish, a front row start and 12 points in the bag, it has been a very successful day for everyone at Maximum Motorsport.

We're racing next in two weeks time at Donington Park on the 15th and 16th of April.

Photo Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography