One of several star performers at the latest Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship meeting of the season at Rockingham, Power Maxed Racing‘s Josh Cook talks to TCF on giant-killing showings, the Independent team’s ambition and how he wants to earn a front-running reputation early on in his BTCC career.
After claiming a maiden podium finish in the latest visit at Rockingham, 24-year-old Cook moved up to 15th in the Drivers’ Championship, both himself and Power Maxed Racing having quashed their underdog status at times in 2015.
Speaking to The Checkered Flag on his maiden BTCC foray, Cook recalls the early meetings of his new venture with the Chevrolet outfit, saying that they have surprised many top rivals already.
“I’m having great fun this year”, enthused Cook when questioned by TCF on his maiden BTCC campaign to date.
“You know that it’s hard work, but the year started really well for us and me personally.”
After the frenetic Donington dice in race six of the season saw Cook battle for victory before a collision with Aron Smith relegated him outside the podium spots, Cook’s mark appeared to have been stamped in BTCC as no pushover.
The pace of the Chevrolet Cruze has also brought back memories of its championship-winning debut in 2010, competing regularly inside the top 10 although Cook lamented a mid-season drop in results. That swiftly ended at Rockingham last weekend however, Cook storming through the field to grab a maiden podium finish in race two with a fine overtaking display.
“It’s a shame that it dropped off a bit in the middle. In qualifying, we dropped down towards the sort of late-teens, but in the races we were always up near 14th or around about that area.
“We want to be higher than that of course. Hopefully we can get a reverse-grid and then I want to be right up there fighting for that darn podium!”
The youngster has also had the additional push of having a former two-time BTCC race winner alongside him in the second Cruze.
Dave Newsham‘s switch to a fifth team in his BTCC career has proved frenetic for much of the campaign, Cook in fact sitting 14 points clear of his more experienced team-mate, the former a previous champion in Renault UK Clio Cup while Cook himself finished runner-up in the same one-make series last season.
Both have impressed with flashes of pace during the eight meetings to date in the current campaign, Cook agreeing that the Power Maxed Racing outfit have hit the ground running with some giant-killing performances.
“It has hasn’t it?”, Cook answered on how strong the Independent squad’s performance has been in 2015 so far.
“It’s been great. The team have obviously been great with the car, which has been spot on. All the lads [working] on my car have really done a lot for me.
“It just shows the steps forward that we’ve been taking, and we’ve enjoyed an extra bit of inter-team rivalry with me and Dave wanting to beat each other! There’s got to be that and it keeps us going forward.”
While Power Maxed Racing sit a creditable seventh in the Teams’ Championship also out of 19 outfits, Cook himself looks primed for silverware of his own for being the top rookie in 2015, claiming an alarming 18 wins out of 24 encounters in the Jack Sears Trophy.
Despite his rookie status, the former Clio Cup starlet admitted that he, since day one, has has the intention to make his mark instantly on rivals and fans alike, targeting podiums of which he achieved for the first time overall in a Rockingham race two thriller.
Commenting on any concerns from being thrown into the deep end, Cook calmly confirmed: “No. Ultimately, I just want to go and win races.
“It’s nice to have the Jack Sears as recognition for being a rookie, but still I don’t want to just be looked at as a rookie – I want to stand my ground and fight with all the big guys.
“It’s great to have that recognition, but next I want to be on that top step as well!”
Provisionally at least, Cook’s performances have put him seemingly out of touch now in the Jack Sears Trophy with not enough points available for his rivals to overturn the deficit, barring any possible penalties earned in the final six races by the Power Maxed man.