A fine qualifying effort saw Josh Cook net sixth on the grid for the first of Sunday’s three Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at Donington Park, although the Power Maxed Racing man told TCF he felt he could have finished even higher.
The former Renault UK Clio Cup front-runner was only 0.636s off the pace of pole-sitter and reigning champion, Colin Turkington, after a late surge jumped the Chevrolet Cruze driver to sixth on the grid for Sunday’s opening race at the Leicestershire venue.
Cook’s Power Maxed Racing team-mate Dave Newsham added to the squad’s elation with 10th place in qualifying, although Cook was adamant that a mistake may have even cost him further places on the grid.
The Bath racer was left wanting more but was delighted with his performance, telling The Checkered Flag afterwards: “I’m really happy with sixth. It’s no P1 though is it?!
“The guys have done a good job. Free practice two didn’t go to plan so we didn’t really get to have a stab at what we wanted to do – similar to Brands. This time, everything fell together a lot more in qually.
“Credit to the team for the car they put beneath me because that’s ultimately the deciding factor.
“I ballsed up on my fastest run when I went a little bit wide at the first corner. I lost a couple of tenths there so there’s still improvements to be made from my side, plus I’m sure there are a few little tweaks we’ve learned from qualifying that we can use in tomorrow’s first race.”
The trio of races on Sunday look set to be as unpredictable as was the case at Brands Hatch, although Cook says that he is relishing the challenge of taking on the likes of former champions Turkington, Gordon Shedden, Jason Plato and Andrew Jordan, who are among those that will sit in his eyeline on the grid.
Cook believes the podium he is setting his sights on could come on Sunday, saying: “I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully we can capitalise on the good qually and I’m looking to move forward. I want to head towards the top three and that’s exactly where I’m going.”
The challenge of the BTCC is not one that has fazed the youngster. The re-branded Chevrolet squad enjoyed a strong Saturday at Donington, rookie Cook eager to fight for silverware.
“I’m not starstruck by it”, said Cook. “I’m very lucky to be where I am and I want to make use of all of the opportunities that I’ve got. It’s a big opportunity with a good team and a good car with fantastic engineers, so there’s still work for me to do from my side.
“For me, it’s not a surprise that we’re there. I’m happy, but at the same time I’d like to be even higher up because that’s just the way I’m processed – I want to win.”
“We’ve got a benchmark now, so I plan to go out and beat that each time I go out.”
Cook sits 14 points behind Mike Bushell in the Jack Sears Trophy heading into rounds four, five and six, the trophy only applicable for BTCC rookies.