TAG Racing’s BRDC ‘Rising Star’ Jake Hill returned to Dunlop MSA BTCC action in emphatic style after the six-week summer break, taking a season’s best P6 in race one, and scoring his best-ever haul of points across three races.
After technical issues in practice limited Hill’s #24 VW Passat CC to only a handful of laps, a huge effort saw him qualify an excellent P11, just 0.010 seconds ahead of team-mate Michael Epps, and fifth of the ‘Independent’ drivers.
Race one saw an excellent start and a strong opening lap, diving past Rob Collard’s BMW at the hairpin, then holding a solid pace and as leader Turkington spun, Morgan hit trouble and then Austin hit Ingram, Hill ended lap six in a superb P6
Maintaining a strong pace Hill was being caught by former champion Turkington, but held his nerve and took his season’s-best finish of Sixth, to the delight of his TAG Racing guests, and those of Rolec and Brisky Racing.
“Mega start, great move on Rob at the hairpin, car had good pace and we had a bit of fortune with others hitting trouble ahead. We’ve had our fair-share of bad luck so to have it work our way seemed only fair! Can’t thank the TAG Racing lads Kingsley, Ian, Alex and Brad plus my engineer Dan and as always Tony Gilham for giving me a great car!”
Race two saw an outstanding start and first corner, sweeping past the BMW’s of Collard and Turkington and getting alongside Neal and Goff and briefly into 4th place! However as Jordan and Plato tangled ahead, Hill was forced into Neal and was to pick up damaged rear suspension, causing the car to ‘crab’ from that point onwards.
Dropping to 8th place after the first-lap contact, Hill had to manage his race with a combination of the ‘Soft’ option tyre and 33kgs of success ballast after finishing 6th, and the damage causing his front tyres to work more than usual.
“The damage at the rear meant we almost had TOO much rear grip, so the front tyres were getting fried. I managed it a best I could, but it was frustrating ‘cos I think we would have gone forwards without the damage” said Hill.
Late in the race the works James Cole was able to capitalise on the superior power and traction of his works Subaru and just edge past, Hill having put up an impressive defence in his damaged car for several laps, and after being held up at turn one by Matt Neal, a charging Tom Ingram pulled off a well-judged move to sneak past at turn two.
This meant Hill brought the TAG Racing machine home a well-earned P11, impressive in the circumstances, and take further points for his overall and his Independent driver’s championship challenge.
The final race saw Hill having the 33kgs ballast removed, and back on the ‘Prime’ tyre, and again an excellent start saw him maintain position, and then move into the top-ten when Sutton retired, then an opportunist move at the final corner moved him ahead of Pole-man Jack Goff, moving up to 8th a lap later when Neal was punted off ahead.
A great battle with Ingram saw the Speedworks Toyota edge past, but when leader Jordan hit trouble Hill was able to fend off a charging Goff to the end and take a fantastic P7, and with it take a career-best BTCC points haul.
“Another battle, another great race, and what an awesome weekend! TAG Racing have done an amazing job, we’ve had loads of guests from TAG, ROLEC, Brisky Racing and friends and family too, and to top it all my good friend and team-mate Will Burns won his first Jack Sears Trophy for BTCC Rookies this weekend! Fantastic!”
“As ever I want to say a massive thanks to everyone for their support – TAG Racing, Rolec Racing, Brisky Racing plus Sportif Motor Group, Ecoflam, Danfoss, AW Supply Services, Bill Rawles Classic Cars, Zynth and everyone else who makes this possible. I think we will be strong now for the rest of the year so hopefully I can keep making progress – I’m 6th in the Independent Drivers championship and think we can move up further”
Next race – Knockhill – qualifying live on itv.com/btcc on Saturday 10th August with all races live on ITV4 HD on Sunday 11th August.