HILL SHINES AGAIN AT THRUXTON
MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square’s Jake Hill took his season’s-best result at Thruxton, the UK’s fastest circuit, taking a superb second place in the opening BTCC race of the day, and backing that up with two hard-fought fourth places in the remaining races, leaving Hampshire in fourth place in the championship.
A stellar start to the 2021 season at Thruxton in May saw Hill take three third place finishes, ending the opening weekend as standings leader, and on his return to the 2.36-mile circuit the #24 Ford Focus ST immediately looked strong.
Qualifying provided high-tension, and on his second set of hard compound Goodyear Eagle slicks put in a superb 1.15.607s lap to take provisional Pole Position. As the clocked ticked down it looked like Hill would claim his maiden BTCC Pole Position until a late lap from Dan Rowbottom in the Honda Civic Type-R pipped the 27 year-old by a mere 0.086 seconds.
“Oh my word!” said Hill. “I was digging deeper than ever for that lap – I actually did two laps back-to-back that would have taken pole at the time, but fair play to Dan that’s a mega lap.”
The first of the 16 lap races saw Hill initially drop one position, before he responded with a late sensational move around the outside of Tom Oliphant and into P2 as they ended lap one.
As the race unfolded, Hill began to close slightly on leader Cook, but the BTC Racing Honda just had sufficient pace, with Hill in turn edging away from Oliphant to seal a well-earned second place finish – his best result of 2021 so far – and his fifth podium of the season.
“Not the best start, but I was determined to fight back and kept Rory (Butcher) at bay and then squeezed past Dan (Rowbottom),” confirmed Hill. “I knew the BMW would struggle for tyre temperature in the early laps so had to capitalise on that quickly, but I think that’s the latest I’ve ever braked for the chicane to get past Tom (Oliphant)! The car was great throughout, so again a huge thanks to the whole team for a fantastic job”
Solid showings followed as Hill scored a pair of fourth place finishes, taking his points tally for the weekend to 43 points, his best since his triple-podium at the opening weekend.
“My best qualifying of the season, my best result of the season, and two fourth placed finishes,” enthused Hill. “That’s moved me back into fourth in the championship, and closer to those ahead, and we have some fantastic circuits for both me and the car coming up.
“We’re pretty consistent now, but crucially we are getting stronger in qualifying too – I’m now only one point behind Colin (Turkington) in the Goodyear ‘Wingfoot’ award for best qualifier which shows how strong we are. A massive thanks to everyone – my engineer Craig has given me a superb car all weekend – and the whole crew – Ben, Rob, Adam, Ian, Brad and everyone at MB Motorsport and Motorbase, for all their hard-work and support.
“We are off to Croft next – I made my BTCC debut there with Motorbase in 2013 and won the Jack Sears Trophy in a Ford Focus in my first-ever race. I’ve done 158 races now… it would be lovely to take another win in the Ford Focus there – I think we’ll be in with a very good shout!”
Croft is on 18/19 September – with qualifying live on itv.com/btcc on Saturday, and Rounds 19, 20 & 21 live on ITV4HD on Sunday.