Josh Cook has told The Checkered Flag that he feels his Team Cooksport outfit have proven that they “do one of the best jobs on the grid” after bringing their maiden Renault UK Clio Cup campaign to a close on the podium at Brands Hatch two weeks ago.
The team entered the championship as a standalone outfit for the first time this season, utilising the engineering team that guided Cook to the vice-champion honours in the Clio Cup last year, with the 24 year old working closely with the team alongside his maiden BTCC campaign.
The Bristol-based outfit ran seven drivers over the course of the season, with Charlie Ladell, Jon Maybin, Lee Pattison, Rory Collingbourne, George Jackson and Alex Sedgwick all taking top five outright finishes, while Paul Knapp recorded a pair of Masters Cup victories.
“It’s been a very good year overall, we’ve had a lot of highs, a lot of lows, and we’ve progressed a lot with our new drivers,” Cook told TCF.
“We’ve been in a position where we haven’t had any experienced Clio drivers in the cars long-term this year, bar Lee Pattison popping in for a weekend at Knockhill, so we’ve spent the year developing our young drivers and seeing them make big steps forward.”
It was Maybin, the team’s regular driver coach, who made their podium breakthrough in his third appearance of the season at the Brands Hatch GP season finale, with Collingbourne and Jackson both taking best finishes of fourth at Rockingham.
Collingbourne was the team’s only ever-present driver across the season, with thirteen top ten finishes guiding him to a top six points finish, while Jackson joined the team from Oulton Park onwards and was another top ten regular en-route to eighth in the standings.
“Rory and George are really happy with how they’ve progressed,” Cook explained. “This is the Clio Cup, it’s very rare for drivers to come in in their first season and put it straight at the front of the grid, unless they’ve had a hell of a lot of testing.
“They’ve both got the pace, 100%, and they’ve shown that in the races this year. The most difficult part for them has been qualifying, and that’s because it’s so tough to get qualifying right in a Clio Cup car … it took me till my third season.
“They got it hooked up at Rockingham, and both came from ridiculously far back to challenge for podiums, with George briefly taking third from Ash Hand. It showed that we can give them the car to challenge at the front.”
Cook is proud of the team’s progression over the course of their first season, and the former Graduate Cup champion feels they are ready to push forwards next season after establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the paddock this year.
“The way we prepare the cars and run the cars, there’s no doubt we do one of the best jobs on the grid,” Cook enthused. “The set-up equipment that Team Cooksport has its state-of-the-art, the best that money can buy.
“I’ve taken a lot of my experience from both the Clio Cup and what I’m learning in touring cars, and passing that on to the drivers too. There’s a very close link between the two and I think that’s important for their development.
“We’re looking forward to a strong winter test programme, and we hope to come back and challenge at the front of the grid. Our drivers are really talented and they’re definitely potential race-winners and title contenders in the future.”