Cook takes first BTCC pole at Donington Park

Matt James
This article first appeared on autosport.com

Josh Cook has taken his maiden British Touring Car Championship pole position after heading a dramatic half-hour shootout at Donington Park in his Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra.

The Bath racer grabbed the top slot on the very last lap after a truncated, damp session, which had been halted with five minutes to go as Aiden Moffat’s Mercedes-Benz A-Class ran into the gravel on the exit of the chicane when its upright broke.

The rain abated slightly as the cars readied themselves to rejoin the circuit.

The first to eclipse Sam Tordoff’s benchmark was Chris Smiley in his BTC Norlin Honda Civic.

Smiley held on until the the very last lap, when Cook sealed his first pole to outshine the Civic driver by 0.030s.

The 26-year-old Cook, who has yet to win a race in the championship, said: “It was certainly lively in that last dash – the stoppage made it interesting and made the heart rate go up a bit.

“I am delighted for myself and for the team, but this is only 50% of the job. We have to convert it into results tomorrow.”

Northern Irishman Smiley, despite beating his previous best qualifying result of 16th spot, said he felt slightly let down.

“I am disappointed,” he said.

“While I was on my fastest lap I could see that I was 0.3s up on the delta, but I took slightly too much speed into Coppice and that cost me pace all the way down the back straight.”

Early pacesetter Tordoff was relegated to third place but said he was pleased with the improvements that had been made to his Motorbase Ford Focus over the morning sessions.

He will share the second row with the factory-backed Team Dynamics Honda Civic Type R of series rookie Dan Cammish.

Moffat, who had been fastest over the opening part of the session, dropped to fifth and he will start alongside Jack Goff in the Eurotech Racing Honda Civic Type R, who took his 66kg of success ballast to sixth spot.

Colin Turkington was the highest qualifying works BMW 125i M Sport in 11th spot after a late burst, although his WSR team-mate Andrew Jordan, who had lost time in the morning with a turbo problem, had a repetition in the afternoon and was restricted to 30th.

Points leader coming into the round, Tom Ingram, could only manage 16th spot in his fully ballasted Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis, just ahead of Matt Neal’s Team Dynamics Civic.

Reigning champion Ash Sutton only joined the session after 14 minutes as the BMR squad had performed an engine change between free practice two and qualifying.

He was only able to compete five laps, but set the 22nd best time to finish directly behind his Subaru Levorg team-mate Jason Plato.

Qualifying result

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Josh Cook Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall 1m19.816s
2 Chris Smiley BTC Norlin Honda 0.030s
3 Sam Tordoff Motorbase Ford 0.167s
4 Dan Cammish Team Dynamics Honda 0.279s
5 Aiden Moffat Laser Tools Racing Mercedes 0.495s
6 Jack Goff Eurotech Racing Honda 0.522s
7 James Nash BTC Norlin Honda 0.522s
8 Tom Chilton Motorbase Ford 0.580s
9 Brett Smith Eurotech Racing Honda 0.665s
10 Tom Oliphant Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes 0.704s
11 Colin Turkington WSR BMW 0.764s
12 James Cole Motorbase Ford 0.799s
13 Adam Morgan Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes 0.801s
14 Matt Simpson Eurotech Racing Honda 0.849s
15 Senna Proctor Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall 0.869s
16 Tom Ingram Speedworks Toyota 0.902s
17 Matt Neal Team Dynamics Honda 0.911s
18 Sam Smelt AmD Tuning Audi 1.092s
19 Rory Butcher AmD Tuning MG 1.125s
20 Rob Austin HMS Racing Alfa Romeo 1.165s
21 Jason Plato Team BMR Subaru 1.188s
22 Ash Sutton Team BMR Subaru 1.228s
23 Stephen Jelley Team Parker Racing BMW 1.510s
24 Bobby Thompson Team Hard Volkswagen 1.517s
25 Rob Collard WSR BMW 1.545s
26 Josh Price Team BMR Subaru 1.580s
27 Ollie Jackson AmD Tuning Audi 1.666s
28 Mike Bushell Team Hard Volkswagen 1.722s
29 Tom Boardman AmD Tuning MG 2.256s
30 Andrew Jordan WSR BMW 2.506s
31 Jake Hill Team Hard Volkswagen
32 Michael Caine Team Hard Volkswagen

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