Josh Cook narrowly missed out on a place on the podium in race three of another action-packed weekend of Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) racing at Oulton Park.
After favourable reverse grid for Cook, which saw Matt Neal's number picked out and promoted Cook to second, he was right on the tail of the former champion from the off.
An unsuccessful overtake attempt saw him drop back to fourth and ultimately ruined his chances of a maiden race victory. He challenged Tom Ingram relentlessly for third but without being able to pass, he was overtaken by Sam Tordoff just a few laps from the end.
That sparked a frantic finish which saw second-placed Gordon Sheddon pick up a puncture, which promoted the MG driver to fourth and challenging for a podium position again. The action went right down to the wire as Jason Plato pipped Cook and Ingram to take the final place of the podium on the last corner, meaning Cook had to settle with fifth. Neal ran out the distant winner.
Ashley Sutton's afternoon finished better than it started after a stunning drive saw him finish in 12th after starting 28th on the grid.
After qualifying seventh for race one on Saturday, it was a good start from the rookie as he, and teammate Cook, who qualified tenth, both gained places on the opening lap.
With both drivers on the soft tyres, it was Cook who made further progress early on. A great move on the Honda of Neal saw him move up to eighth.
Sutton was putting pressure on Plato for fifth at mid-race distance, before backing off to manage his tyres. Disappointment was to follow as the rookie tussled with Ingram, ran wide and dropped right down the field. That paved way for Cook, who came home in seventh. Meanwhile, Sutton crossed the line back in 19th. Colin Turkington took the race victory with a dominant lights-to-flag victory
Cook had to be in a more defensive mode in race two as he fought off challenges from Rob Collard and Neal to finish sixth.
The main talking point came on lap 11. Collard, attacking Cook's MG for several laps prior, eventually got past on the start-finish straight with five laps remaining. Cook refused to be beaten and fought back to take the place back. Collard eventually spun off as the battle between the two continued.
Sutton's afternoon went from bad to worse on the opening lap of the race. He was forced back to the pits with suspension damage following contact with Collard and Neal. The team managed to get the MG6 back out, but Sutton crossed the line three laps down in 28th.
The MG Triple Eight Racing team head to the north east in two weeks time hoping for more points in both driver and manufacturer championships.
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