Hard knocks for Hill
RCIB Insurance Racing driver relishing Donington Park weekend after promising pace shown at Brands Hatch
Jake Hill experienced the highs and lows of the BTCC during the opening weekend of the season at Brands Hatch, as the Kent-based racer mixed it with the big boys on his return to the series.
The Team HARD-run racer qualified 19th – well within a second of Tom Ingram’s lap record set in the same session – but Hill was confident of moving further forward on race day.
That plan was on schedule at the start of race one as the Toyota Avensis surged up the order after a stellar getaway. Hill passed a trio of Honda Civic Type Rs on his way to finishing 13th and securing a solid points finish – the best result from Team HARD’s Toyota trio.
The RCIB Insurance Racing driver then looked set for his first top ten finish of the season after again showing his speed in the second bout. Hill went wheel-to-wheel with BTCC race winner Sam Tordoff in the West Surrey Racing BMW and looked to have at least tenth under control, until a mechanical problem ended his challenge.
“I made a great start in both races and had a mega first lap in race one, passing four cars, and was on for a top-ten finish in race two,” said Hill. “In fact on lap times I think we may have been able to make a couple more places up which would have put us well up on the grid for race three. As frustrating as it was to retire at least it showed we have some real potential and the pace is there.”
The competitiveness of Britain’s best series was there for all to see in the final encounter as Hill and fellow gun Tom Ingram fought hard and long to make their way through the field. Initially the duo made good progress before turning their attentions to each other. A thrilling scrap ensued, which led to a high-speed spin for Hill and a fine from the stewards for Ingram as both ultimately failed to reach the points.
“It was a really good battle with Tom,” continued Jake. “We were fighting for position and obviously Tom wanted to get past and unfortunately there was contact. It was a pretty wild ride – I spun through 720 degrees pretty close to the barriers – but fortunately didn’t hit anything and managed to finish.
“I know the BTCC is always pretty crazy which is why the drivers and the fans love it. I’m just focussing on Donington and getting more points and making more progress.”
Hill hasn’t raced at the sweeping Leicestershire circuit since taking victory in Ginetta G50 back in 2011, but enjoyed a promising performance at the Season Launch last month, running in the top ten for much of the session before finishing the day in 14th place.
“Donington is one of my favourite circuits,” he concluded. “I did a lot of testing here when I started racing in Ginetta Juniors back in 2009, and have won here in both Juniors and G50s. The Season Launch went really well and I think our Toyota Avensis should be well suited here.”
Hill will certainly be one to watch as the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship unfolds and as he’s already proven on a number of occasions, he’s certainly capable of challenging and beating more experienced competition.