MB MOTORSPORT ENDS 2020 ON A HIGH AT BRANDS HATCH
MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square enjoyed a strong end to its maiden campaign in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship, with a sixth podium of the year during Brands Hatch’s frenetic finale.
The team headed into the weekend looking to maintain a fine run of form that had seen Jake Hill score three rostrum results in six races, and with team-mate Sam Osborne one of the drivers in contention for the Jack Sears Trophy title.
A challenging qualifying session in wet conditions saw Hill maintain his record of lining up inside the top ten at every event of the year, as he secured sixth on the grid despite an ‘off’ at Paddock Hill Bend, with Osborne ending up 21st – well-placed amongst his Jack Sears Trophy rivals.
Heavy overnight rain and further morning showers meant track conditions were far from easy for the opening race on Sunday, but Hill enjoyed a solid start to race day, staying out of trouble to bring the #24 Honda home in sixth place, having held off the challenge of former champion Matt Neal.
Osborne moved himself up into the top 20 in the early laps, but his race would come to a premature end when he got out of shape at Paddock Hill Bend on lap seven. Subsequent contact from the Volkswagen of Glynn Geddie resulted in him going off into the gravel trap at Druids, ending his Jack Sears Trophy hopes.
Race two was held on a drying circuit and provided the chance for drivers to run on slick tyres, albeit on a track surface that was particularly greasy to begin with and which played to the strengths of some runners who gambled on sticking with wet rubber.
Hill lost places on the first lap following a trip through the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend after contact in the pack, which left him down in 19th place and with work to do in order to add to his points tally. However, he went on to excel in the tricky conditions and battled his way back up to seventh place at the finish.
Osborne was similarly on fine form in the #4 Honda as he recovered well from the disappointment of race one with a strong drive through the pack from 26th on the grid. Into the top 20 by the end of the third lap, the 27-year-old continued to make gradual progress up the order and, having moved into the points-paying positions by two-thirds distance, he crossed the line in a solid 14th place.
The reversed grid left Hill starting sixth for race three, which would be held in wet conditions after the onset of heavy rain.
Making up one place on the opening lap, Hill then took fourth on lap two when Chris Smiley ran off-track and continued to run at the sharp end throughout as he diced for the podium positions with Josh Cook, Tom Ingram and Dan Cammish.
The end result for Hill was a strong third place, which made it six rostrum finishes for the season and allowed him to conclude the campaign seventh overall, and fifth in the Independents’ Trophy.
Osborne ran inside the points early on before being forced off-track at Graham Hill Bend, which left him with dirty tyres and resulted in a spin as he headed into Surtees, forcing him to retire to the pits with damage to the radiator.
Despite that disappointment, he wound up inside the top 20 in the overall standings, 14th in the Independents’ Trophy and fourth in the Jack Sears Trophy.
“It was great for us to end the season with another podium,” acknowledged Team Principal Shaun Hollamby. “Jake did a really good job again to take three solid points finishes in difficult conditions. Sam also did a fantastic job in race two to come through the pack in the way he did, and it is unfortunate that he wasn’t able to stay in contention for the Jack Sears Trophy as it would have been just reward for the progress he has made as a driver this season.
“Of course it would have been nice for us to get a win this year, but I feel we can be happy with the way our season has gone in very difficult circumstances with everything that is going on in the world. Everyone involved in the series deserves credit for going out and putting on a good show for our fans, sponsors and partners in recent months, and we look forward to welcoming them all back trackside in the future.”
“This has been a positive first season for MB Motorsport in the BTCC, and it is nice to end it with another podium finish,” added Mark Blundell, MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square’s Sporting Director. “Jake did a really good job again at the weekend in the same way he has done all season, and to get a sixth podium of the year against such competition in those conditions is very pleasing. A top seven championship finish is also a job well done, and something to build on in 2021 as our partnership continues.
“Although it’s a shame that Sam wasn’t able to take the Jack Sears Trophy, he has come on in leaps and bounds this season and is a totally different driver to the one who first got in the car when he joined us. He has worked well with Jake and has been eager to learn and improve, and I think that was shown by his performance in race two.”
“When we left Brands Hatch earlier in the year, I felt terrible as we’d had an awful weekend and it was the lowest I’d felt after a touring car meeting,” reflected Hill. “Now, six podiums later after a fantastic turnaround, we can celebrate what has been a really good weekend to end the season.
“Brands is my home circuit and one that I absolutely love, and we enjoyed a strong race day to be right up there in the top eight, scoring good points and picking up some more silverware. I have to say a massive thank you to the team for doing a fantastic job and I’m hugely excited for next year to see what we can achieve together.”
“It was an interesting weekend with the weather being the way it was, as I’d not driven the car much in those conditions,” revealed Osborne. “In the opening race, things were going okay but then I made a small error and, as I recovered, Glynn [Geddie] just seemed to move over into my car and we ended up in the gravel which was a shame, as it ended my Jack Sears Trophy hopes. Race two, however, was mega. We made a good call on the tyres and made up loads of places from the back and scored more points, which I didn’t expect at the start.
“It’s unfortunate that we didn’t finish race three, but I’m delighted with the season as a whole. When you look at the progress I’ve made from the end of last year to now, it’s been huge and there are so many positives for me to take away from 2020. Huge thanks to the team and to Jake for helping to push me along – this season is something for me to now build on going forwards.”