HILL’S THE HYBRID HERO AT DONINGTON PARK
ROKiT MB Motorsport man secures historic first-ever BTCC pole position
Jake Hill sensationally kicked off the BTCC Hybrid era with the first pole position of his Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship career at Donington Park earlier today (23 April).
With the introduction of hybrid power already making the opening qualifying session an historic moment for the UK’s biggest and best motorsport championship, a titanic tussle to grab the all-important pole position ensued.
The session started in dramatic fashion as Dan Cammish scrambled out of his #9 NAPA Racing UK Ford Focus with a suspected fuel fire, immediately ending the Yorkshireman’s challenge.
BMW became the dominant force following the restart – the Bavarian marque occupying the top five positions at one stage – as a flurry of fast laps lit up the timing screens.
Eventually, it became a head-to-head between two West Surrey Racing-run machines as Hill edged out his four-time champion stablemate Colin Turkington by just 0.018s.
NAPA Racing UK was provided with some joy as reigning champion Ash Sutton claimed third, ahead of the Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com Hyundai of Tom Ingram.
Just 0.063s separated the top four drivers in the final classification, highlighting the early competitiveness in this new era of touring car racing.
Debutant George Gamble proved to be a superstar on his maiden run as the Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport driver impressively took fifth, securing a third-row starting berth alongside Halfords Racing with Cataclean’s Gordon Shedden for tomorrow’s opener.
Stephen Jelley (Team BMW) and Adam Morgan (Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport) ensured it was five BMWs in the top eight, whilst the Hondas of Daniel Rowbottom (Halfords Racing with Cataclean) and Jason Plato (Rich Energy BTC Racing) rounded out the top ten.
Rounds 1, 2 and 3 of the 2022 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship will take place at Donington Park tomorrow (24 April) with a sizeable crowd expected to attend. Many more will watch the action live on ITV4 with the coverage commencing at 1050.
Jake Hill said: “I’m over the moon, I’ve got to thank Craig [my engineer] and WSR for giving me a fantastic car to drive. From FP1 it’s just felt amazing and we’ve done the job. It’s my first pole and my first weekend with WSR so I’ve had a fantastic afternoon.
“[Tomorrow is] my first touring car race in a rear-wheel drive car and with West Surrey Racing – what better car to do it in than my ‘ROKiT-ship’? It’s absolutely awesome. So I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to racing Ash [Sutton] too, it’s been a while since I’ve raced with him, and all the people around me. Hopefully, we’ll just have a successful day no matter what happens!”
Colin Turkington said: “There were a lot of question marks going into qualifying and where we would be. The pace in free practice was rapid even compared to the test day we did here, so the front row is excellent and a great result for the BMWs. Jake’s done a great job with pole on his first qualifying in the car so we’re looking good. It was a tough session, with hybrid in the mix there’s a lot more to think about. But it’s really fun!
“[Jake’s] been sharp from day one, which is what we need as a team, pushing each other on. It’s great that we start the season at the sharp end of the grid and feeling confident with the car, so let’s see what tomorrow brings.”
Ash Sutton said: “I messed it up if I’m honest! The lap we were on for, was easily a pole position time, but at the final chicane I just got a bit keen. Then I actually blocked myself out of my own hybrid, so I didn’t have any up to the line. Which realistically, based off the data today, would’ve been half a tenth of a second so it would have been enough. But I’m happy, the car’s mega, it’s my first front-wheel drive qualifying in a long time, I’m sat in P3 and I’m just ready to go racing.
“The comparison between rear-wheel and front-wheel is unknown at the minute, especially with hybrid. I know Jake’s strengths and weaknesses and he knows mine, it’ll just be how the cookie crumbles. But NAPA Racing UK is ready to go racing. The car’s there, the pace is there, so I’m pleased.”
2022 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Donington Park
1. Jake HILL (GBR) ROKiT MB Motorsport 1:08.418s
2. Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +0.018s
3. Ash SUTTON (GBR) NAPA Racing UK +0.023s
4. Tom INGRAM (GBR) Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com +0.063s
5. George GAMBLE (GBR) Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport +0.219s
6. Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Racing with Cataclean +0.235s
7. Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team BMW +0.261s
8. Adam MORGAN (GBR) Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport +0.292s
9. Daniel ROWBOTTOM (GBR) Halfords Racing with Cataclean +0.376s
10. Jason PLATO (GBR) Rich Energy BTC Racing +0.480s
11. Ricky COLLARD (GBR) Toyota GAZOO Racing UK +0.514s
12. Daniel LLOYD (GBR) Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com +0.624s
13. Sam OSBORNE (GBR) Apec Racing with Beavis Morgan +0.690s
14. Bobby THOMPSON (GBR) Autobrite Direct with JourneyHero +0.810s
15. Tom CHILTON (GBR) Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com +0.826s
16. Josh COOK (GBR) Rich Energy BTC Racing +0.836s
17. Ollie JACKSON (GBR) Apec Racing with Beavis Morgan +0.979s
18. Michael CREES (GBR) CarStore Power Maxed Racing +1.067s
19. Ash HAND (GBR) CarStore Power Maxed Racing +1.136s
20. Jack BUTEL (GBR) Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com +1.186s
21. Jade EDWARDS (GBR) Rich Energy BTC Racing +1.549s
22. Árón TAYLOR-SMITH (IRL) Yazoo with Safuu.com Racing +1.596s
23. Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +1.764s
24. Nic HAMILTON (GBR) Yazoo with Safuu.com Racing +2.019s
25. Rick PARFITT (GBR) Uptonsteel with Euro Car Parts Racing +2.952s
26. Rory BUTCHER (GBR) Toyota GAZOO Racing UK +3.384s
27. Dexter PATTERSON (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +4.558s
28. Dan CAMMISH (GBR) NAPA Racing UK NO TIME