Josh Cook has broken his victory duck in the BTCC, taking his Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall to an untroubled win in the opening race of the Donington weekend.
The polesitter was challenged on his way to the opening corner by fellow front row starter Chris Smiley in his BTC Norlin Honda. Smiley nosed ahead going through Holly Wood but Cook reasserted himself at the head of the pack by the left-hander of the Craner Curves.
Smiley struggled on the harder Dunlop option tyres and Team Dynamics Honda driver Dan Cammish, who had made a rapid getaway from the second row, followed Cook through.
Cook was able to pull away over the latter stages and eventually crossed the line nearly 3.5s clear of his rival.
“I didn’t make the best of starts and the car was a bit loose to begin with,” said Cook. “I was battling with Smiley but he gave me just enough room at the Craners. From there, I was able to get my foot down.
“It is a credit to the team – the car was perfect. Once I got a gap, I overtook [the lapped] Matt Simpson and put him between me and Cammish. I was hoping that it would break [Cammish’s] soul. It seemed to work.”
Cammish, who took his first career podium in the BTCC, later admitted that he was just unable to match the performance of Cook.
Behind them, Sam Tordoff was running in a strong third place in his Motorbase Performance Ford. He was in touch with Cammish until lap 10, when he was forced into the pits with a suspected electrical problem which was hampering his gear changes.
That promoted Aiden Moffat to third place, the Laser Tools Racing Mercedes's successfully fending off Brett Smith (Eurotech Honda) and James Cole (Motorbase Performance Ford Focus) for the final spot on the podium.
Matt Neal finished sixth in his Team Dynamics Honda after a battling from 17th. He was into the top 10 after five laps and picked his way further forward to the flag.
Smiley nursed his less favourable tyres to claim seventh, and he headed Senna Proctor’s Vauxhall, Tom Oliphant’s Mercedes and Colin Turkington’s BMW to the line.
Reigning champion Ash Sutton, who had started in 22nd spot after engine problems in qualifying, climbed up to 12th spot at the flag.