Former European Le Mans Series GTE champion Jonny Cocker has claimed the race win in only his second ever race in a front wheel drive car. The British endurance specialist was racing in the SEAT Leon Eurocup for Wolf-Power Racing, helping to develop and set up the team’s new Leon touring car. The lights to flag victory saw Cocker lead home fellow Brit Alex Morgan in the best of the three Baporo Motorsport machines.
Cocker looked slow to start as the lights went out but held a firm lead into Copse on lap one. It was Morgan who impressed the most from fourth on the grid, briefly holding second place before Jordi Oriola gained a temporary upper hand.
It was an early move for the lead by Oriola which gave Morgan the chance he was looking for. The #33 went for the inside at Vale, attempting to get past Cocker but came under attack himself by a hungry former Clio Cup racer. Contact towards the back of the points paying pack at Brooklands caused enough confusion for the top three to settle.
The #34 of race 1 winner Stian Paulson and the #1 of Pol Rosell dropped both down the order. Rosell never properly recovered, finishing in a disappointing 12th place while Paulson gave into the red mist and would become a factor later in the race. Fran Rueda’s Monlau Competion machine ended its race stranded at Vale in the gravel on the first tour.
Here both Cocker and Morgan grabbed a lucky break as the #6 of Mikel Azcona for PCR Sport and the #3 of Briche began battling, allowing the Baporo driver to settle down and pressure the leader.
“I knew I had to keep with Jonny,” said Morgan, “and there were a couple of laps I got real close but I couldn’t make the move stick and I wasn’t ready to throw away a potential podium at this stage of the championship.”
Cocker added, “I got a good start and just got my head down and went really. Alex was giving me a really hard time, he was absolutely on it from the start.”
Firm but fair racing at the head of the pack, throughout the group which at one point included the top six cars on the track, was highlighted by typical touring car behaviour further down the order. Attention was never taken too far from the battle for the lead though which raged for the full eleven lap distance. The third Baporo car almost caused the event of the race when it ran straight on at Brooklands at the hands of Portuguese racer Manuel Giao. The car headed immediately to pit lane and struggled to get down to the 60kph speed limit, leading to an assumption of brake failure as the cause of the second of only two retirements from the competition.
A late surge from the Stian Paulsen Racing car of Stian himself put the race 1 winner on the back of the leading quartet but there were just not enough laps left for the #34 to pass Briche. The final lap was highlighted by a push by Oriola which ultimately failed to bear fruit. Cocker took the victory followed less than a second and a half later by Morgan. Oriola held for third.
Briche, Paulsen, Mikel Azcona and Thibaut Mourgues took fourth to seventh places. Lucille Cypriano raced an apparently quiet race to the head of the Ladies Trophy in eighth, cementing a strong points lead in this competition within a championship and rounding out the race 2 points scorers. Paulsen meanwhile brought defending champion Pol Rosell’s points lead down to just two points headed to the mid-point of the season at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.
The third Briton in the field, Finlay Crocker made firm progress up the order, from 28th and stone dead last to 22nd at the chequered flag. The privateer entered machine benefitted from a drive through penalty for the 23rd place finisher Mario Dablander who was penalised for jumping the standing start but passed Dominik Fekete, Adriana Gruger and Miaden Lalusic on track to make up six positions over the eleven laps.
Jonny Cocker was thrilled with the result, telling TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk, “We had not a perfect qualifying but it put us in a good position for race two. We had good pace in the race but it’s always difficult to make a plan for a race start, especially front wheel drive with so many variables.
“Its great to come here for my first ever front wheel drive experience and come away with a win.
“I couldn’t do much to prepare for the weekend really. It’s a brand new car, it was only just finished and the team is new for this year. I was asked to come along to help improve the car and try to make some good progress. Obviously we did that, but there is obviously a chunk more to come and we have some tests planned for later on.
“I just couldn’t be happier with the result.”