MIXED FORTUNES FOR MB MOTORSPORT ACCELERATED BY BLUE SQUARE AT BRANDS HATCH
A day of mixed fortunes for MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square was highlighted with a fourth-place finish for Jake Hill, as the Motorbase Performance-run squad battled hard at its home circuit of Brands Hatch Indy during the latest Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship outing.
The team headed into race day with high hopes after showing strong pace in qualifying, with Hill lining up on the second row while team-mate Ollie Jackson prepared to once again forge his way up the order from 20th. The squad’s hopes were also buoyed by a passionate home crowd at the Kent-based circuit, as the championship continued to welcome a limited number of spectators back to the grandstands.
With greasy conditions greeting the drivers for the opening race of the weekend, Hill was jumped off the line by a couple of early fliers whilst Jackson held his position in the midfield. The 37-year-old continued to hold firm and lap consistently throughout the race on the fringes of the points, until a last lap excursion dropped him down the order.
Despite losing places at the start, Hill wasted no time at all in earning those back, passing Rowbottom and reigning Champion, Ash Sutton. With Sutton looking racey behind, Hill had to balance between attacking the Hyundai of Tom Ingram in front whilst keeping Sutton’s Infiniti at bay.
An expert move saw the local favourite overtake Ingram into third before Rowbottom returned on the charge to drop the #24 machine to fourth. Keeping championship rivals Sutton and Ingram behind, Hill marked a positive start to the day by keeping the spot until the chequered flag fell.
Race two started in excellent fashion for Jackson, after a typically strong start saw him back inside the top 20 in no time. Gaining consistently throughout the race, including a notable move on four-time champion Turkington, the Reigate racer managed to cross the line just outside the points-paying positions with his sights firmly forward ahead of the final race.
For Hill, the second race of the day promised so much until misfortune struck. In no time at all, the 27-year-old was back inside the top three and closing in on the leading pair of Oliphant and Ingram. With another strong points haul on the cards, Hill’s weekend took a turn for the worse as a puncture caused him to exit the track and forced him into the pits, effectively ending his race.
As race three rolled around, both drivers were looking to leave their mark on the weekend with a final roll of the dice. Unfortunately the team’s cruel luck continued and Jackson’s race was ended as his bonnet released on his tenth tour of the 1.2-mile circuit, forcing him into the pits and eventual retirement when it was determined that the issue could not be corrected quickly.
Lining up in P27 after his race two puncture, Hill returned with a vengeance in the final race of the day at his home circuit. Clawing back five places inside the first two laps, which became nine spots in six laps, Hill lay just outside the points by the halfway point of the contest.
Not content with that, the Kent racer continued to forge his way through the field with expert moves on the BMW pair of Turkington and Oliphant as well as a fantastic battle with Gordon Shedden, in which the youngster triumphed. Ultimately, the overtaking masterclass took Hill to 13th at the flag and back into the points from the back of the field.
Despite the squad’s misfortune throughout the day, the MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square squad continues to rack up the points helping Motorbase Performance to retain second place in the Manufacturers’/Constructors’ Championship. Hill also retains fifth in the Drivers’ Championship as both he and Jackson look forward to returning at Oulton Park in just over four week’s time.
“Sometimes you just get the feeling that it’s not your weekend,” reflected Jackson. “The incident in race three pretty much summed my weekend up! It’s not been for the want of trying – the team and I have pushed and worked really hard throughout. We haven’t had the rub of the green but we know we can come back fighting at Oulton next month.”
“It’s been a day of frustration, considering how things started,” added Hill. “To turn it around in qualifying and score strong points in race one, only made the misfortune in race two hurt all the more. The car was brilliant all day and it gave me the opportunity to take out my frustration in race three. Taking fourteen places in that race highlights that things are working well all together and we now head to Oulton hoping for a really strong, consistent haul of points.”
“The BTCC has a way of letting you know when you’ve been in a battle and that’s certainly how this weekend has felt,” concluded the squad’s Sporting Director, Mark Blundell. “Everyone at Motorbase has worked incredibly hard and we have shown glimpses of what we can do. It’s a sign of how competitive we are that we are all feeling disappointed. We’ll use this as motivation and come back to fight on all fronts at Oulton next time out.”