A brace of wins in the first two races of the new season saw Josh Cook (and his Cobra Seat) take an early lead in the 2021 BTCC Championship table, but the debut meeting of The British Touring Car Championship season wasn’t so kind to Cobra drivers Colin Turkington and Gordon Shedden.
As the chequered flag dropped to announce the start of the 2021 BTCC season, defending Champion Ash Sutton was on pole with “Cobra drivers” Josh Cook, Colin Turkington, Tom Ingram, Rory Butcher and Tom Oliphant taking the next five places on the grid.
However, as you would expect from the BTCC, there was drama from the first lap: Sutton held the lead into the Complex for the first time, with Team BMW’s Turkington and Cook’s BTC Honda running side-by-side immediately behind. As Sutton braked into the right-hander he was clipped from behind by Turkington’s BMW 330i M Sport and went into a spin.
Cook made the most of the opportunity to take the lead, his front wheel drive Honda having a traction advantage over the rear-wheel-drive cars around him – as evidenced by Tom Oliphant who also went spinning on cold tyres.
The opening lap drama was far from over, however, and again it was a “Cobra” driver who came off worst … and proved the credentials of his Cobra seat as he hit the barriers with some force: It certainly wasn’t the return to the BTCC that our long-time ambassador Gordon Shedden was hoping for! Gordon has won the BTCC Drivers Championship no fewer than three times in his Cobra seat, but Thruxton wouldn’t prove to be an ideal launch pad for his campaign for a fourth title.
Shedden’s Honda Civic’s heavy impact with the barrier meant that Gordon had the unfortunate claim to be the first cause of a safety car period in the 2021 season.
Cook kept his cool following the restart, as did Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com’s Tom Ingram, with Jake Hill completing the podium despite coming under race-long pressure from Colin Turkington, while Dan Cammish claimed an impressive fifth in his BTC Racing Honda.
Not a bad start for drivers using Cobra seats: The top two podium places.
Another two drivers using Cobra seats who were worthy of note in the first race of the season were Daniel Rowbottom, who had a very impressive debut weekend for Halfords Racing with Cataclean, taking eighth in the final corner from “Cobra’s” Adam Morgan who was making his first start in the Ciceley-run BMW.
Race 2 commenced with yet another dramatic incident: This time it was “Cobra newcomer” Jade Edwards who was thankful for the protection offered by her Cobra seat when she was the innocent victim of a dramatic three car collision just past the start line which resulted in a red flag and her badly damaged Honda ruled out of the restart.
True to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that accompanies the BTCC, it was Jade’s stablemate, Josh Cook who eventually took the chequered flag after the restart to claim his second win of the day. With Dan Cammish claiming second and Dan Rowbottom finishing fourth in race two, it was proving to be an excellent start to the season for the Hondas and Cobra Seats … and not too bad if you were named Dan!
In the third race of the day, it was time for Gordon Shedden to join the Honda party with a hard fought fourth, while a sixth for Colin Turkington and a seventh spot for Tom Oliphant at least meant that a disappointing day for WSR ended on an upward trajectory.