16 June 2019
It was a great weekend at Croft with drivers in Cobra seats grabbing most of the headlines!
The precedent was set in a bizarre qualifying session which saw no fewer than five red flags and the session ending prematurely when an off for “Cobra driver” Andrew Jordan “promoted”, erm, Andrew Jordan to the front of the grid!
New qualifying rules state that a driver causing a red flag in qualifying will lose their fastest lap time up to that point and take no further part in the session, so Jordan lost his fastest lap and all eyes turned to the second fastest lap of the day – which had also been posted by the BMW Pirtek Racing driver, who claimed his first pole position since 2014.
If Jordan’s “off” was the most productive, then fellow “Cobra driver” Rory Butcher was the most dramatic when the joint championship leader lost control on the exit of the chicane, and his Cobra Sport Honda hammered across the track and into the barrier, leaving Rory just the latest driver to be thankful for the protection offered by his Cobra seat.
On to race one and the track, though drier than it was in practice and dry enough for slicks, was slippery enough to keep everyone on their mettle. Jordan’s car seemed particularly twitchy at the start, but it didn’t prevent him from opening up a two second lead by the end of lap two.
Behind him there was an enthralling battle for fourth between the WSR BMW’s of Colin Turkington and teammate Tom Oliphant and a fast charging Dan Cammish in his Halford’s Yuasa Racing Honda.
A lengthy safety car period (following an off on lap seven) closed the field up and undid Jordan’s good work, but at the restart normal service was resumed with Jordan setting fastest lap on lap 16 and going on to take a lights to flag win – his fourth victory of the season.
Race two was wonderful fare with great racing and no safety cars!
Tom Oliphant pirouetted on lap one to move balletically from fifth to last, but ahead of him Jordan was already pulling away from the field, despite his success ballast.
Behind Jordan, Chris Smiley, Colin Turkington and Dan Cammish were in a titanic battle for second, third and fourth until Colin Turkington moved up to second with a brave overtake into the Esses: The cork was out of the bottle and the WSR BMW started to close the gap on the leader.
On lap eight, Dan Cammish moved in to third to complete a 1-2-3 for drivers using Cobra seats, while Matt Neal repeatedly showed the field just how to take Sunny – Croft’s long right hander – by executing some classic overtakes to move up from tenth to a very creditable fourth at the flag.
Race three’s “reverse grid” did few favours for many of the “Cobra boys” – but that didn’t stop them claiming yet another podium position.
A heavy shower just before the start meant that the cars were allowed to complete two sighting laps on their way to the grid and seven drivers gambled on the newly resurfaced track drying rapidly, opting to run slick tyres.
Chilton led away from Josh Cook’s BTC Racing Honda Civic at the start, but the first car on dry tyres – “Cobra’s” Tom Ingram, starting third in his Team Toyota Corolla, soon realised that his gamble wasn’t going to pay off as he plummeted down to 19th by the end of the first lap.
There was a brief safety car interlude when Jack Goff had time to ponder his decision to also opt for slicks as his Volkswagen CC’s lack of grip resulted in contact with Chris Smiley on the run through the Complex, breaking his rear-left suspension in the process.
After the restart Josh Cook held on to second to maintain his admirable record of scoring a podium at every venue so far in 2019.
Behind Cook, the motor racing Gods were not kind to the Honda’s: With both cars set to run the mandatory hard compound tyre it was a no brainer to swap to wets when the sharp shower doused the circuit just before the start. Both drivers got away well but then slipped back as the track dried and their cars became harder to drive. Neal held off Sutton for several laps until the Subaru slipped through, relegating the Halfords Yuasa Racing driver to a fifth-place finish, while an unsighted Cammish made a brief off-track excursion but recovered to 10th spot at the flag.
A wonderful days racing leaves drivers using Cobra seats in a wonderful position in all of the Championship standings: In the BTCC Drivers Championship, Colin Turkington leads on 143 points with Josh Cook in second on 132, Andrew Jordan fourth on 117 and Matt Neal proving to be the silent assassin just two points behind in fifth.
In the Manufacturers – Constructors championship, BMW are top of the pile on 318 points, with Honda breathing down their necks on 313. Teams using Cobra seats block out the top four positions with Halfords Yuasa Racing topping the standings on 210 points, followed by Team BMW on 188, BTC Racing on 176 and Cobra Sport AMD on 148.
Josh Cook and Rory Butcher are 1 and 2 in the Independent Drivers Championship and their respective teams - BTC Racing and Cobra Sport AMD – hold 1 and 2 in the Independent Teams Championship … and finally Rory Butcher and Tom Oliphant are 1 and 2 in the Jack Sears Trophy.
There’s still a long way to go, but things are looking good for drivers using Cobra seats!