Power Maxed Racing headed to Rockingham Motor Speedway for rounds 22, 23 and 24 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship. The team leave the circuit after their most successful weekend to date claiming the team's first ever BTCC podium, another Jack Sears Trophy and seeing Josh Cook gain an unassailable lead in the Jack Sears Trophy for 2015.
Following strong free practice sessions that saw both drivers pushing each other, the Power Maxed duo ended up having a mildly frustrating qualifying session. Josh Cook had his flying lap on fresh tires interrupted by the red flag resulting in qualifying 12th and it was a similar story for Newsham who, after dialling his car in was thwarted by the red flag.
Lights green for race 1, both cars made a great start with Cook gaining several places around Dean, battling in a frantic pack. By lap, 2 Cook was up to 6th place, with Newsham being battered in 16th place with thanks to contact from one of the BMW’s. Cook made his Chevrolet Cruze wide to keep a racey Ingram behind while chasing the bumper of Shedden. Cook had elected to use the soft tyre for race 1, meaning he had to gain places before the tyres went off. The battle for 6th continued with Cook side by side with Ingram, changing places at each corner. Both drivers showed some textbook moves allowing just enough racing space to keep the crowds entertained. Both Newsham and Cook avoided the mid-race carnage with cars spinning around them resulting in a safety car. The final laps saw Cook’s tyres drop off leaving him victim to the chasing pack running the medium compound. Newsham was running strongly on the medium compound tyre and had his foot down. He pulled into the tow of Cook and slingshotted himself up the inside of his teammate to cross the line in 11th with Cook in finishing in 13th, nursing a late puncture.
With fast laps set during race 1 determining the grid, Cook lined up 14th and Newsham 16th. Both drivers made another solid start, Newsham was side by side with the MG of Jordan and a feisty Cook was ahead of Neal’s Honda gaining 5 places by the end of the first lap. Newsham was pushing hard and battling with Collard, the fight pushed Newsham wide, but he pulled off a cracking save unfortunately at the cost of a few places. Sadly Newsham was to fall prey to another BMW after receiving a good whack from Foster, breaking the Chevrolet’s rear suspension. He managed to limp back to the pits to give the Power Maxed Racing team maximum time to get the car back for Race 3.
Cook, however, was on a charge pushing the car into 6th place past the Audi of Austin, then deftly up the inside of Turkington into 5th. Goff was the next target, Cook quickly closed the gap to pass cleanly into 4th place with his first BTCC podium in his sights. He set about making the Cruze fill the rear view mirror of Morgan’s Mercedes. With only two laps to go Cook was all over the bumper of Morgan with the pair side by side, pushing for the switch back but held by some great defending by Morgan. Cook, showing his touring car talent, pulled alongside Morgan taking the outside line into the Brook chicane, a brave calculated line gaining him 3rd place and crossing the line to take his first BTCC podium and a well-deserved reward for the Power Maxed Racing team.
The reverse grid mixed up the starting lineup, Cook was carrying 57kg success ballast in 8th and Newsham back after his forced retirement, in 29th.
A typical race 3 start saw Cook miss a spinning MG of Goff to gain a place up into 7th and Newsham on a full charge, gaining multiple places. Luck was sadly not with Newsham as he was collected by Palmer, pushing him wide damaging the suspension with no option but to retire. Cook was in the midst of a battle for 7th place with Smith hot on his heels. A little rub from the Irishman pushed Cook wide and dropping to 8th. The safety car was deployed after some typical BTCC action from further down the pack, causing the field to close up. Cook showed great skill, he was forced to defend from a lighter Tordoff and with action aplenty for the fans, Cook, Morgan and Shedden raced side by side, each holding their line and giving each other room. Another yellow flag and safety car closed the field again, allowing Cook to pass Jackson, crossing the line in 10th place.
Adam Weaver, Power Maxed Racing Team Principal commented,
“Getting our first podium is a really big deal, it is testament to the hard work the entire team and shows the changes we have made since taking over are really paying off. Josh did a fantastic job and drove like a true professional, he made us all very proud.”
“We have had our head down working hard since January and it is nice to lift our heads and enjoy what we hope to be the first podium of many. Our hard work will not stop here as we have lots more in the pipeline to continue our rise to the top."
The BTCC continues in two weekends time when the championship visits the home of British Motorsport, Silverstone for what is set to be a nail-biting meeting.