PODIUM AND POINTS KEEP HILL IN TITLE FIGHT TO THE END
MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square driver Jake Hill summed up the penultimate weekend of the 2021 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship as a ‘tough start, but a fantastic finish’, having taken his ninth podium of the season in the final race at Donington Park.
After qualifying P13 Hill admitted; “We could have maybe got in the top ten, but my second new-tyre run didn’t see me improve my time, which was frustrating.”
Despite losing places initially in his ballast-laden Ford Focus ST, Hill was back into 13th by the end of the opening lap. On the third tour, however, the battling pair of Adam Morgan and Ollie Jackson saw the latter run wide through the Old Hairpin, resulting in a tangle for Hill and the BMW, which saw Morgan clattering heavily into the wall while the #24 machine scrambled along the grass and dropped to the rear of the field.
As the Safety Car was called, Hill wisely pitted for the car to be checked and grass to be removed from the radiator intake, rejoining at the back of the pack in P28.
“Ollie and Adam were battling hard and ran wide, so I got a ‘run’ at them and was on the outside of Adam when he came across and I had nowhere to go. I feel really bad for Adam – it was a genuine accident – and from my perspective, I was lucky to be able to continue, albeit from the back.”
After the restart, Hill began charging through the pack, and by lap ten was into the top 20, finally passing Taylor-Smith to finish a hard-earned 17th.
“Very tough, and I’m really, really sorry for tagging Jade [Edwards] – we managed to almost get into the points so it gives us a chance for a decent race two and three.”
Hill’s Motorbase Performance-run squad were called into action to take the engine out between races due to a slipping clutch potentially needing changing and, in a remarkable display of teamwork, managed to complete the task and rebuild the car with only a couple of minutes to spare before race two.
“Just incredible! [Everyone] was amazing in getting the job done. So impressive, and very much appreciated!”
From 17th on the grid, another less than ideal start saw Hill slow away, before immediately buckling down to work his way into the points within three laps.
Continuing to pick off the pack ahead, dramas for Dan Rowbottom and an uncharacteristic spin for Colin Turkington saw the 27-year-old battling to ninth at the finish.
“Another frenetic race! Still not a great getaway, but the car worked really well, and it was great to get into the top ten again and get another seven all-important points!”
When the reverse grid draw was made, Turkington was awarded pole position, meaning BRDC Superstar Hill would start third, behind Rowbottom’s Honda Civic Type R.
A strong start saw Hill almost alongside the #32 Honda and side-by-side with Aiden Moffat, before edging ahead of the Scotsman’s Infiniti back into third.
Following a safety car period which started later in the lap, Hill set after Rowbottom, pressuring hard until a brave move saw him past and into second on lap ten.
The Kent racer held position until the conclusion of the race, earning his ninth podium finish of the campaign and maintaining his rostrum run.
“Dan [Rowbottom] is great to race with – he made it tough but it was all okay. I then had Aiden on me all the way to the end, but the car was really strong so it was amazing to finish the day with P2, and my fifth BTCC weekend in a row that I’ve been on the podium. Again, a massive ‘thank you’ to the guys on my car for their incredible work. We had lots of guests with us too, so a huge thanks as always for their support.
“I am so proud to be going to the final BTCC meeting at my ‘home’ circuit, Brands Hatch, and on the brilliant Grand Prix circuit in with a chance of becoming the 2021 BTCC Champion. It’s a very, very long shot being 45 points behind Ash [Sutton], but anything can happen it the BTCC! Whatever happens, I have loved the season so far, so let’s see what we can do…”
The final weekend of the 2021 season sees qualifying on Saturday 23 October at 1500, shown live on itv.com/btcc, with Rounds 28, 29 & 30 live on ITV4 on Sunday 24 October, with the opening encounter kicking off at 1130.