After a long winter of silence, the BTCC exploded back onto the scene in the opening round at Brands Hatch last weekend.
For Josh Cook and the #RacingForHeroes team, it was the first time to see the results of their immense efforts over the close season with the Power Maxed Chevrolet Cruze. The Saturday saw Cook setting the early pace in tricky practice conditions. From an eventual 20th in qualifying, Josh gave an outstanding performance throughout race day, proving that #RacingForHeroes were not to be taken lightly in the 2015 season.
Conditions on the Saturday were at best, problematic with bursts of rain throughout the morning before drying up into the afternoon. The opening practice session saw #RacingForHeroes leading the way for many of the other teams, with Josh setting consistently competitive times, ending the session in an outstanding 3rd place outright. As qualifying rolled around, Cook would find himself battling a misfire throughout the session, yet still managed to plant his Chevrolet on 20th for race day with a time of 49.517. To only be a second off the pace is a true testament to the immense talents present in both the team and Josh as a driver.
As the day dawned on race day tensions were high, the first race of the season in any series is often explosively unpredictable and the BTCC is most definitely no exception; it is the only time of the year when no driver has success ballast on the car and most importantly, nothing to lose and everything to prove. With Cook starting in 20th, many would say he was out of the danger zone at the front and could get his head down and drive his way to a strong result.
The first race saw Josh Cook drive nothing short of an exceptional race, fighting his way up from 20th to 13th. From the outset there was nothing but undeniable pace from Cook as he powered his way through the ranks. Among those taking the flag behind him were big names such as Rob Austin, Sam Tordoff and the other Power Maxed driver Dave Newsham. On top of these successes was Cook’s convincing win in the Jack Sears Trophy by a whopping 13 seconds over AMD man Bushell.
New rules for 2015 mean that the starting positions for race two are determined by the fastest lap set in the first race, which saw Cook line up 17th. The television screens focused a great deal of attention on the battle that raged up front, but what they missed was the near twelve car nose-to-tail train in the mid-pack. As part of this group, Josh took advantage of the apparent weakness of the soft tyre and made some strong passes including on winner of the first race Rob Collard who was sinking like the Titanic down the order. As the chequered flag dropped, the #RacingForHeroes crossed the line 14th ahead of Newsham, once again taking the Jack Sears win by 13 seconds.
The superb success of Cook was brought to an end in the final race of the day when a problem with the car caused him to retire during the safety car period. The biggest shame was that the team had worked out a strategy to deal with the problems with grip drop-off from the soft tyre. It was not all disappointment for Power Maxed; Dave Newsham got a superb 9th overall, giving the team its first top 10 of the year.
After a strong first race weekend, #RacingForHeroes left Brands Hatch with their car having secured two Jack Sears victories alongside a 13th and 14th outright. Josh Cook now lies second in the Jack Sears standings to Bushell, while 18th in the overall driver’s championship. If it was not for the problems that hampered Cook in the final race, he would have likely had a clean sweep of Jack Sears wins. For a rookie it is truly an outstanding achievement to become instantly competitive and be battling with some of the long established name in the BTCC game.
Moving forward to Donington Park, the only way is up for #RacingForHeroes. With such success in their opening weekend, it is only a matter of time before Cook cracks the top ten and even fights for a podium. Power Maxed and #RacingForHeroes form a fiery combination that will drive for nothing except victory, and will not stop until they get there.
And remember, with very turn of the wheel, every apex and every overtake; Josh Cook and #RacingForHeroes are racing in support of all our injured veterans and Help For Heroes. This is the time.
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This is #RacingForHeroes. Driving For Change
Article by Lewis Glynn
Photo Credit: marekp.co.uk / #RacingForHeroes