This season saw youngsters Aron Smith, Adam Morgan, Howard Fuller and Aaron Williamson make their BTCC debuts, each impressing in their own way. Much is made of money in motorsport but talent talks too, and here, theCheckeredFlag.co.uk reporters Scott Mitchell and Simon Paice have spoken to five drivers we believe could cut the mustard in Britain’s premier motor racing championship. Following Jack Goff last week is a second Clio Cup driver, at the beginning of his time in the championship. It’s Josh Cook…
Cook has showcased himself as a BTCC star of the future with a stunning debut season in the 2012 AirAsia Renault Clio Cup UK.
Running with 20Ten Racing, not an established front-running team, Cook was a consistent top ten finisher at the start of this season, before really impressing as it came to a close.
The 21 year old capped it off with a stunning double win in the penultimate meeting at Silverstone. A total of four podiums during the campaign helped him to finish fifth in the standings as the Rookie Cup winner.
His success in his debut year is now spurring him on for an overall championship charge in 2013.
“Next year I’m hoping to complete another season in the Clio Cup championship,” he said. “Joining the Clios came as quite a surprise this year and we only confirmed our place a week before the first race meeting at Brands Hatch, with only half a test day under our belts.
“As a result of this, every weekend we have learnt something new about car setup. This is can be seen in our race results as we have slowly made our way up to the front of the grid. Qualifying was a big problem for us at the beginning of the season, meaning in every race that we have finished in 2012, we finished higher than we qualified, which has showed how strong our race pace has been.
“There are many strong points which we can take forward to the 2013 season and after having a couple of race wins and a number of podiums this season, there is no reason why we cannot be fighting for the 2013 championship title.”
Cook was a revelation during his maiden season in the Clio Cup, clearly benefitting from a real schooling in tin top racing, having previously competed in SAXMAX, Stock Hatch 750MC and the Production Touring Car Trophy.
His experience will be a boost as he looks to complete his dream and race in the BTCC – but he’s not losing too much track of what is his immediate priority.
“BTCC is a championship which has always been a dream of mine but has always seemed out of reach,” he enthused. “I used to try and catch as much of the BTCC races as I could on our caravan TV between my kart races.
“I have always tried to not think about the future too much, so I don’t lose focus on the championship in hand. With this in mind, I have always managed to finish respectively in my previous championships.”
For many aspiring drivers, the BTCC can be a place to prove yourself or a home for many years. For Cook, it’s a little bit of both, and above all would be the culmination of a long, hard slog to the top.
“The BTCC is one of the highest levels of motorsport, with many of the drivers being former championship winners themselves,” he explains. “It would give me the opportunity to compete against and try to beat some of the best drivers in the world.
“I will never give up my dream to try and race in BTCC, each season brings me closer to this goal which only feeds my addiction to get there.”
While some driver’s do take the leap into the BTCC with just one season in Clios under their belt, Cook believes he’s not quite ready as a driver to make the progression into the premier tin-top series in the UK just yet.
However, he feels a second season in the Clios will put him at the level required to compete.
“I feel that Clio Cup is the right place for me to be currently. As all drivers know, it’s not just about what you do in the car, but how you present and apply yourself out of it. Clio Cup has given me the chance to learn more about connecting with the media, which is one of the most important parts as a race driver.
“There are still many other aspects which I feel I need to develop before reaching optimum ability as a professional race driver, so I feel that after another season in Clio Cup would provide the opportunity to do this.
“I would then be ready to move up the ladder once more to BTCC and I would love to get the opportunity one day to prove myself against the best.”