The One Motorsport with Starline Racing crew celebrated a lock-out of the winners’ silverware in the Independents Trophy division of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park last weekend.
Josh Cook took two victories at the picturesque Cheshire track in the opening two races of the weekend in his Honda Civic Type-R, while Aiden Moffat collected a battling triumph in the meeting finale in his Japanese hatchback.
It was another challenging weekend for the team’s third driver Will Powell after an opening race which had delivered much promise.
Cook broke into the front positions in qualifying and was part of the 10-minute top-10 shootout for pole position. He lined up on the fourth row of the grid for the first of the trio of races. He made progress in the opening 15-lapper for a competitive sixth spot at the flag and underscored his pace with fifth in the second race, which was his second Independents’ glory of the meeting.
In race three, where most drivers were using the unfavourable harder joker tyres, the Bath man grabbed his third top-10 finish of the weekend with a fighting seventh place at the flag.
Reflecting on the weekend, which has seen the Bath-based racer push out his advantage at the head of the Independents’ Trophy points table to a whopping 60 points at the halfway stage, Cook said he was pleased with progress.
“That was a good weekend in terms of consistency and banking the points, but I always want more,” says Cook. “It is always so hard to overtake at Oulton Park because of the nature of the track and so I was a bit stuck in the races themselves.
“Despite that, it is clear that the One Motorsport with Starline Racing crew and I are making the right kind of progress with the car. We have had so much learning to do over the start of the season with what is effectively a new chassis to us and a new engine and that means every event is a journey for us all, but solidly banking the points while we aim to get to the front is very positive.
“While it is nice to get onto the podium and collect the trophy for the Independents glory, I am always going to be striving to be on the very top and first overall. So long as we keep pushing and working in the way we have already been, I am very confident we will get there.”
Moffat was left frustrated by qualifying, after which he started the opening race on the seventh row. However, worse was to follow as he was stuck with the difficult hard tyre in race one and the independently supplied electronic system on his car packed up. He came home in 20th spot.
“That meant I was literally powerless against the others,” says the Scotsman “It also put the whole One Motorsport with Starline squad under pressure to get the car sorted for race two and we only just got it ready in time, although were wasn’t time to fully refine the set-up so I was struggling again. Finishing 15th was a pretty good reward given the circumstances.”
Moffat bolted on the more favourable softer tyres for race three and produced one of the drives of the event as he cut through the pack to sixth at the flag, right on the bootlid of the leading pack.
“It is strange, because I overtook nine cars and landed the Independents’ Trophy win, but I was still left slightly frustrated, he admits. “I thought an overall podium might have been on the cards. But, because I had been so aggressive at the start to get up the order, the tyres started to wear out at the end and I had to bank what I had.
“While that was a bit disappointing, I am happy with the steps forward we are making. I have had two strong meetings at Thruxton and now at Oulton Park, and we are getting into the sort of positions that I want to be in. There is a lot to build on and things are moving in the right direction.”
Powell lined up in 26th place after a spin in the qualifying session but chopped his way through the lower order in race one to climb to an impressive 19th position at the flag. However, mid-pack contact in race two broke the steering on his Honda and he went off. He rebounded with a 21st place finish in the weekend’s finale.
“Race one was how things should go,” explains Powell. “I got hit in race two but the One Motorsport with Starline Racing team did a great job, as ever, to put the car back together again.
“In race three, we were starting from the back on the harder Goodyears tyres. That meant making progress was always going to be a tough ask. The entire race was a struggle.
“It is all about putting a weekend together across qualifying and all three races, and I feel like that hasn’t come to me yet. Despite that, I have enjoyed the learning. I am taking all the positives I can from my experiences in touring cars.”
Rain had threatened the entire weekend at Oulton Park which meant that the tactics of when to use the slower harder Goodyear tyres had been the quandary facing all of the runners over race day.
One Motorsport with Starline Racing team owner Steve Dudman explains that the uncertainty had caused some difficulties when preparing for the three races.
“We have had a challenging weekend again,” says Dudman. “We have had a lot of situations where we had been dodging the weather and trying to get our strategy right for the rain which was supposed to be coming – but never did.
“Overall, Josh and Aiden put in a fantastic shift. We got the strategy right for Aiden, maybe more than we did for Josh, with the use of the soft tyres in race three. It was tough choice for everyone and you could see there were some strange choices going on up and down the grid.
“Unfortunately for Will, he has had some accidents again this weekend and he is finding it very difficult to combine his commercial role with the team along with the driving.”
The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship now enters a five-week break before it resumes at Croft in North Yorkshire on July 29-30. Dudman says that the team will not rest on its laurels in the meantime, particularly as the teams will all head to Donington Park in a few weeks’ time for a mid-season test.
“We are going to throw a few things at it, and we will keep pushing hard in every area of this entire programme. Success is what we are all hungry for,” added Dudman.