Cook pips Smiley to #BTCC pole position at Donington Park

Josh Cook has taken a dramatic pole position at Donington Park today (28 April), his first ever in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.

The Power Maxed TAG Racing star left it until the final moments to complete a magical lap in tricky wet conditions as his Vauxhall Astra reproduced the pace it had already shown throughout practice.

Chris Smiley had also starred earlier in the day and he looked set to claim his own maiden pole position until being squeezed out by Cook, but the BTC Norlin Racing man still secured a career-best second on the grid. Cook and Smiley’s last ditch efforts forced long-time leader Sam Tordoff down to third, although the Team GardX Racing with Motorbase driver can be pleased with his performance in the Ford Focus RS.

BTCC new boy Dan Cammish also waited until the final minutes to show his hand as the Halfords Yuasa Racing rookie hauled his Honda Civic Type R up to fourth, ahead of Laser Tools Racing’s Aiden Moffat.

Scotsman Moffat showed impressive speed during the 30-minute session but his run came to an unexpected early finish when front-right suspension damage saw his Mercedes slide straight on and into the gravel trap, his car eventually coming to a halt after nudging into the barrier.

A brief stoppage to the session followed to remove Moffat’s striken A-Class, with the aforementioned drama ensuing after the restart.

Brands Hatch race-winner Jack Goff took sixth in his ballast-laden WIX Racing with Eurotech Honda as he incredibly set the exact same lap time as series returnee James Nash. The latter had to settle for seventh but it still completed a fantastic and emotional day for the BTC Norlin Racing squad and its Team Principal Bert Taylor.

Tom Chilton made it two Fords in the top eight, whilst Brett Smith continued his eye-catching progress in the BTCC with ninth.

Tom Oliphant completed the top ten as the young talent showed great car control in his Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes, out-pacing his more experienced team-mate Adam Morgan in the process.

A host of household names failed to trouble the top ten, including the likes of Tom Ingram (16th), Matt Neal (17th), Rob Austin (20th), Jason Plato (21st), Ash Sutton (22nd), Rob Collard (25th) and Andrew Jordan (30th), whilst double champ Colin Turkington did well to wrestle his tricky handling BMW up to 11th.

Rounds 4, 5 and 6 of the 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship take place at Donington Park tomorrow (29 April). Pre-weekend ticket sales suggest a big crowd will be descending on the famous Leicestershire venue, whilst many more will be watching the action live and exclusively on ITV4 from 1040.

Josh Cook said: “The guys have put a great car together and it’s been quick all day. We just had to convert that pace in qualifying. The track was greasy at the start and I wondered if everyone else was struggling as much as me, but the guys said I was right up there. Coming down the back straight and looking at the delta on my dash it was all to play for. It’s half the job done and it’s great for the guys, but we need to convert this tomorrow now and I can’t wait to get going. We had good pace at Brands Hatch in the Astra and it’s a good base.”

Chris Smiley said: “It’s really good to get right up there and it’s genuine pace that we’ve had all day. I’m disappointed in myself actually as we had a bit more in the car and I lost a bit at Coppice but that’s the way it goes sometimes. It’s great for the team and all the guys. When we went out it was drizzling and it was on-off throughout so the conditions, I thought, were pretty similar overall for the whole session. We’ve kept ourselves under the radar. At Brands Hatch we were unlucky and we had the pace but getting the front row makes your race so much easier – if you get away well, that is!”

Sam Tordoff said: “We’re fast! We qualified on the front row at Brands Hatch and we’ve got third spot here. We’ve showed that we’ve got the pace in the wet and I can score good points, or even win from third. I feel the new Ford Focus RS is fantastic and I’m definitely back in the groove now. The car’s good on tyres too and everyone’s in the unknown with the lack of slick running today so I’m confident.”

2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Donington Park

Josh COOK (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing 1m19.816s (89.26mph)
Chris SMILEY (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +0.030s
Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Team GardX Racing with Motorbase +0.167s
Dan CAMMISH (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.279s
5 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +0.495s
Jack GOFF (GBR) WIX Racing with Eurotech +0.522s
James NASH (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +0.522s
Tom CHILTON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +0.580s
Brett SMITH (GBR) WIX Racing with Eurotech +0.665s
10 Tom OLIPHANT (GBR) Ciceley Motorsport +0.704s
11 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +0.764s
12 James COLE (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +0.799s
13 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport +0.801s
14 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Simpson Racing +0.849s
15 Senna PROCTOR (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +0.869s
16 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +0.902s
17 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.911s
18 Sam SMELT (GBR) AmD with Cobra Exhausts +1.092s
19 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing +1.125s
20 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing +1.165s
21 Jason PLATO (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +1.188s
22 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +1.228s
23 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team Parker Racing +1.510s
24 Bobby THOMPSON (GBR) Team HARD with Trade Price Cars +1.517s
25 Rob COLLARD (GBR) Team BMW +1.545s
26 Josh PRICE (GBR) Autoglym Academy Racing +1.580s
27 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) AmD with Cobra Exhausts +1.666s
28 Mike BUSHELL (GBR) Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing +1.722s
29 Tom BOARDMAN (GBR) AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing +2.256s
30 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +2.506s
31 Jake HILL (GBR) Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing
32 Michael CAINE (GBR) Team HARD with Trade Price Cars