23 Year-Old BRDC ‘Rising Star’ Jake Hill put in an outstanding performance in qualifying for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, putting his TAG Racing VW CC a superb fifth on the grid, a career-best so far.
After finishing third in practice, Hill felt a top-six result was always possible, and on a record-breaking day where the entire 32-car field was covered by less than a second, Hill’s 58.817 lap time was just 0.164 seconds from Pole Position.
“The TAG Racing crew gave me a superb car, and were really consistent on longer runs. I am absolutely delighted with fifth – that’s the fourth time this season we’ve qualified in the top-ten. We should be in really good shape over a race run”
As Hill made his way to the start ominous white smoke began to drift from the TAG Racing machine, but at the start a superb getaway saw him immediately past Matt Neal’s Honda Civic Type-R, and then challenge Adam Morgan, outbraving the Ciceley Racing Mercedes at Brooklands and up to a remarkable third overall!
Moments later Hill ran wide, and the source of the smoke became apparent – a burst power-steering pipe causing fluid to leak and all power steering to be lost, forcing the Kent-based youngster into immediate retirement.
“An amazing start, a great couple of corners, into a podium position and then….so frustrating, one of those things that hardly ever fails, but it picked the worst possible time to go. I feel so bad for all our guests from TAG Racing, Rolec Racing, Brisky Racing, Danfoss, Ecoflam, Midhurst Electrical and AWS Supply Services…I so wanted to give them something to celebrate – we will just have to regroup and see what we can do from here” shrugged Hill.
However all thoughts were of Hill’s team-mate Will Burns, an innocent victim of a huge impact involving Collard and Jordan, leaving the 27 year-old’s Cases-backed machine with massive damage, and more worryingly resulting in Burns being airlifted to hospital with fractured ribs and a bruised lung.
“We are all just relieved Will is going to be ok. We have become very good friends this year, he has had such awful luck and this looks like it may have ended his season. I know he will be back racing again soon, I just hope he gets well very soon and me, my Dad and my whole family are sending lots of love to him. Get well soon Willy!”
Starting 29th for race two, Hill immediately passed Lines, Jelley and benefitted from Jordan’s issues, then continued his charge past Moffat, Simpson, Butcher and Ollie Jackson. With the car working well, Hill continued to press-on, gaining places on Cook, Proctor and Cole and Depper. A brush with Whorton-Eales saw another place gained, Hill then slicing past Price’s Subaru and then former champion Plato’s sister car. Now up to 15th – and in the points – Hill was pushed wide by Plato which also saw Price back past, Hill crossing the line P17, which became p16 when Sutton was penalised.
“The car was really good again and I was able to make some really good progress. Such a shame Jason pushed me wide otherwise we would have scored some points which I felt we’d earned! Again big thanks to the team, now let’s push on and get some points in the final race!”
For the final race of the day, Hill again made a strong start, passing Price and then benefitting from Mat Jackson and Colin Turkington having dramas. Also passing Brett Smith and now up to 12th, Hill was immediately behind an incident involving Plato and Cook. As Hill checked up to miss the carnage, Butcher slammed into the back of the TAG Racing machine, forcing bodywork onto the tyre and causing a puncture.
Hill’s TAG Racing crew quickly changed the tyre, and a fired-up Hill instantly charged into action – setting fastest lap of the race, and fastest independent driver. However after dropping a lap down due to the tyre stop and bodywork repairs, Hill also had an issue with damage at the front which caused overheating and retirement.
“What a tough day! Two retirements but really good pace. I’m so glad Will will be ok, that’s the most important thing. We go to the final meeting of the year at my local circuit – my ‘home’ race – and my favourite track Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit. It’s Team HARD’s home race too, and I can’t wait just hoping we have a car as good as it has been here. I still think we can get a podium and an Independant’s Win – let’s see what the weekend brings” smiled Hill.
Brands Hatch is Saturday 30th September and Sunday 1st October – qualifying is live on itv.com/btcc at 3.40pm on 30th with all three races LIVE on ITV4HD Sunday 1st October.