Hill takes treble-points finish in Brands Hatch BTCC Finale
BRDC Rising Star Impresses in debut season in the btcc
With a remarkable eight of the thirty-one entrants still in with a chance of winning the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch, 22 year-old Jake Hill from nearby Goudhurst in Kent came to ‘my favourite circuit’ aiming to finish the season on a high after an impressive first-full season in the UK’s premier series.
Hill’s RCIB Insurance Toyota Avensis was strong in the two wet-weather practice sessions, topping the times for much of session one and again running well in session two before heading into the afternoon qualifying session.
Running well initially before the session was stopped after Aron Smith rolled spectacularly - the Irishman unharmed but out for the day - Hill progress was halted when the rain returned, but late on was improving his times as the track dried, only for a fuel-surge issue to cause a loss of momentum and leave Hill a frustrated 20th on the grid.
“The car worked really well in practice but qualifying just didn’t work out. I’m sure the boys will get things sorted for race-day and I will be on a mission to make progress” said Hill.
Race one started well and Hill immediately moved ahead of Simpson and Depper before a Safety Car intervened when Abbott was spun and an unsighted Andrew Jordan slammed into the stationary Chevrolet. Later Hill gained more places after his team-mate Mike Epps ran wide and he also passed Ollie Jackson’s Audi S3 and later Ashley Sutton’s MG.
Ultimately Sutton re-passed as did a recovering Tom Ingram but problems for Jeff Smith meant a hard-earned points scoring finish for Hill in 15th place.
“I’ve learned a lot in BTCC this year and finishing race one solidly is crucial, so to move up and score points in race one is always the target, so I’m pleased with that and can build on that for the next couple of races. The car felt good but I was on the ‘soft’ option tyres and they were losing performance from mid-race so I was really pleased with 15th.
Starting race two in 15th place and now on the ‘medium’ tyres Hill had made a solid start moving ahead of the BMW’s of Goff and Collard when the Safety Car was deployed after Matt Neal was spun hard into the wall exciting Druids Hill bend.
As the triple champion carefully extricated himself from his car, Hill judged the re-start well and was fighting with Collard and Morgan, gaining a place when Austin hit problems.
As the race progressed Hill was fighting with Jeff Smith, when the No.55 Honda slammed into the Toyota at Surtees, pushing Hill wide and resulting in Smith getting a verbal warning from the officials and Hill recording a battling 12th place.
“I had some good fights with Rob, Adam and Tom (Ingram) but when Jeff caught me he got a bit physical, hitting me at Druids and Surtees and pushing me out of the way which was unnecessary. But still a good result and we can move forward in race three.”
As Hill sat on the grid a problem was detected with the cars electronics which caused concern that the car may stall, but ultimately Hill got a strong getaway and was immediately in the fight with the cars around him, passing race two rival Smith early-on.
After a short Safety Car Hill gained a place as he passed race one and two winner Turkington moving Hill into the top-ten, before closing and challenging on Rob Collard . As Subaru’s Jason Plato was edged out, Hill concentrated on lapping smoothly, and one final twist saw another Safety Car late on.
At the restart - with just two laps left - Hill charged after Collard and also pulled away from Plato, coming into the final turn of the lap, the race and the season on the BMW’s tail, forcing Collard into a small mistake and getting past at the line to snatch 8th place by just 0.095 seconds!
“What a way to finish a fantastic season! That’s my fifth top-ten finish and rounds of the day so well, fighting up from 20th on the grid for race one steadily up the order. I have to say a huge ‘thank you’ to the boys on my car - Kingsley, Ian, Peter, Kieran, Gary and everyone in Team HARD. Also of course team-manager Gary Allen, Debbie Gilham and the man himself, Tony Gilham for believing in me and giving me this amazing opportunity; and RCIB Insurance, AutoAid Breakdown and TAG Industries for supporting us all of course. Likewise all my personal supporters. Some the amazing people who have supported me in every way - morally and of course financially - cos without them I couldn’t race at all. I’ve been proud to race with the BRDC Rising Stars logo on my car, and hope I can continue in BTCC in 2017. So the work starts now on raising the budget and I’m sure we can continue to progress” smiled Hill.
Hill’s focus is now on 2017 and securing the requisite funding to continue in BTCC.