Cook plays his cards right in Cheshire to return to winning ways

25th June 2024

Josh Cook became the third Toyota driver to win a race in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship in 2024 last weekend (22-23 June), as the LKQ Euro Car Parts with SYNETIQ star expertly exploited an alternative tyre strategy at Oulton Park in Cheshire to tally the 19th victory of his career in the country’s premier motor racing series.
Ahead of the event, Cook took a trip to Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK’s nearby Deeside engine plant, and after completing 62 laps of Oulton’s undulating 2.23-mile layout between them during free practice, he and team-mate Aiden Moffat progressed safely through the first part of qualifying – the Scot setting a ‘purple’ middle sector time along the way.
They remained evenly-matched in Q2 to secure tenth (Cook) and 12th (Moffat) spots on the grid amongst the 20 high-calibre contenders, separated by a scant 0.126 seconds. Rolling the dice by electing to bolt on the slower hard-compound tyres in order to get them out of the way early on, they moved forward to finish respectively eighth and ninth in the curtain-raising contest, with Cook barely half-a-second shy of winning the ‘hard tyre race’.
If that represented a solid start, then what followed was inspired. Having ditched his hard rubber for the faster soft variety, the 33-year-old Bath-born ace gained three places to fifth by threading his way carefully through a first corner fracas in race two that left one car stranded broadside across the track and sent others scattering this way and that in avoidance.
In front of the live ITV4 television cameras and a capacity trackside crowd, he subsequently jumped Jake Hill, Dan Cammish and defending champion Ash Sutton in one fell swoop on the run down to the chicane, prior to snatching the lead from race one winner Tom Ingram at Lodge – all before the opening lap was out! From thereon in, Cook disappeared into the distance, going on to take the chequered flag more than eight seconds clear of anybody else as fastest lap completed a perfect score.
The two-time BTCC Independent title-holder’s maiden triumph behind the wheel of the British-built Toyota Corolla GR Sport delivered Speedworks Motorsport a second home soil success from its most recent four outings at Oulton, with the track located just down the road from the team’s Northwich workshop. Moffat similarly looked poised to challenge for some silverware as he rose to sixth early on, only for a turbo boost pipe issue to cruelly force him out.
The 27-year-old Dalkeith native bounced back with a storming drive from the rear of the grid up to tenth in the day’s finale, winding up just two spots behind Cook in the sister car, with the latter the weekend’s fourth-highest scorer overall to leapfrog multiple champion Colin Turkington for fifth in the title table entering the BTCC’s five-week summer break. Moffat remains ninth, as LKQ Euro Car Parts with SYNETIQ regained third position in the Teams’ classification.
Christian Dick, Team Principal, LKQ Euro Car Parts with SYNETIQ, said: “First and foremost, I want to congratulate Josh on achieving his first win for LKQ Euro Car Parts with SYNETIQ and Speedworks. He has been on the pace and in the mix all season, and everybody in the team was absolutely delighted to see him up where he belongs – on the top step of the podium.
“That kind of result didn’t necessarily look to be on the cards after qualifying, and there was a fair bit of midnight oil burned before race day to try to give ourselves a chance of moving forward and taking something solid away from the weekend – but like at Snetterton, we took a punt on tyre strategy in race one and like at Snetterton, that paid off richly later on.
“Josh’s victory was obviously the standout moment at Oulton and a massive fillip for everybody in this immensely hard-working team, but it’s important not to overlook that Aiden was also right up there in race two and potentially on-course to make it a double podium until he unfortunately had to retire. To then battle back the way he did in race three was testament to his tremendous strength of character, and his day will come again this season, of that I have no doubt.”
Josh Cook, Driver, LKQ Euro Car Parts with SYNETIQ, said: “We had a tough start to the weekend and spent FP1 and FP2 chasing something rather than finding a balance in the car, which left us on the back foot going into qualifying, but the nature of the BTCC is that things can turn around very quickly. We deliberately threw away race one to get rid of the hard tyre, focussing instead on races two and three, and that strategy clearly reaped rewards.
“It’s obviously nice to be winning again. It unquestionably makes it a lot easier when you’re on the soft tyre and the guys around you are on hards, but I got off to a really good start in race two and then everything just seemed to open up for me – I was in the right place at the right time. 
“After that, I concentrated on getting my head down, settling into a rhythm and punching in some consistent laps, while remaining mindful of not pushing the tyres too hard and keeping something back in reserve in case there was a safety car at any stage. 
“I’m really pleased for the whole team. We’re under no illusions that we’ve still got some work to do to be able to compete consistently with the guys at the front, but you have to take the opportunities when they arise and we all really needed a result like that.”
Aiden Moffat, Driver, LKQ Euro Car Parts with SYNETIQ, said: “First of all, huge congratulations to Josh on such a brilliant first win of the season – it feels like it’s been a long time coming for him. On my side of the garage, I was happy with the base of the car in practice and felt we were in a decent position, and qualifying was obviously a step forward compared to previous events this year.
“Given there was such a big delta between the two tyre compounds, we had to gamble in terms of choosing which race to sacrifice on the slower tyre, and we decided to take the pain early on. That looked like it was going to pay off and I felt we had a great shot at a podium in race two with everybody ahead of me except Josh on the hards, so to have to retire due to a mechanical problem was massively disappointing and cost us a lot of points.
“That had the knock-on effect of significantly compromising our chances in race three as well, since we had to start right at the rear of the grid, but it was good to at least fight through to a top ten finish to end the day.
“Now, we’re looking forward to the summer break, because there are some areas where we think we can tweak the car that we simply haven’t had time to do with the frenetic nature of the first half of the season. It will be nice to have that breathing space and then see what we can come back with at Croft next month.” © 2024
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