Hill’s Tough Times at Croft BTCC

Hill’s Tough Times at Croft BTCC

 

Trade Price Cars Brisky Racing’s Jake Hill described his weekend at a blisteringly hot Croft in North Yorkshire as ‘one of the toughest I’ve ever had in BTCC’ after a weekend which saw his first retirement of the season in race one, and performance issues in races two and three.

 

A promising run to P8 in practice lead to hope for qualifying, but both Hill and team-mate Mike Bushell were unable to match the times set in practice, with Hill qualifying a frustrated 25th.

 

“BTCC is always really close, so had I been able to repeat my time from practice, I would have been P11….but both Mike and I had the same issue, just not able to repeat the times from practice. Hopefully we will have a stronger car for the races”

 

Starting on the option ‘Hard’ tyre Hill made a good start and benefitted from incidents ahead involving Austin and Cook, so ended lap one in P22….however behind the Safety Car a stone was flicked through the radiator, forcing retirement.

 

“One of those unlucky things I guess – just pleased I realised quickly and came in slowly to save the engine”

Jake Hill Croft

Race two and starting P30, a drama on the grid saw the car spring a water leak, the crew frantically working to repair things and get Hill away from his grid position as planned.

 

Another strong start and some issues for cars around, plus a couple of strong passes saw him up to P21 – all good for his Dunlop #ForeverForward award for most places gained – but as the last few laps began, Hill’s ‘Prime’ tyres began dramatically losing performance, with his lap times almost 10 seconds slower than his best, meaning a finish of P26.

 

“The car was good for the first few laps, but very quickly I could feel the tyre performance dropping, and by the last few laps it was like driving on ice. We just couldn’t get the tyres to last, so I was just making sure I brought the car back safely”

 

Hill’s crew worked hard in sweltering conditions to change the car for the final race, and the early indications were promising, moving past Smelt and Smith on the opening lap, then passing team-mate Bushell and a lap later Jackson, plus benefitting from Austin’s problems. Now P21 and pushing Cole, the issues from race two reappeared, and again tyre performance dropped massively, Hill dropping back and eventually finishing P25.

 

“The team have worked incredibly hard. Geoff, Phil and Yahor my engineer, Jamie, Josh, Carl, Nathan, Gary and the rest of the lads have put in so much effort. We just haven’t been able to get things working the way we want, which is incredibly tough for everyone, all of the drivers and all of the team are trying their hardest, that’s for sure”

 

“Now there is a five-week summer break and the team are testing at Snetterton, so let’s hope they can unlock the pace there, as there are some tracks in the second half of the season which should suit the car”

 

“As always I am hugely grateful to Tony (Gilham), Gary and everyone at the team for their support, and for my amazing partners Rolec Racing, Brisky Racing, Sportif Cars, Trade Price Cars, Oodle, Click Dealer, Ecoflam, Danfoss, ABGO, AWS Appliance Spares, Bill Rawles Classic Cars, ScoriaTech, Zynth, ModelWorld, P1 Nutrition, Spine Optics, Octane, BRDC Rising Stars, TechMax and everyone else who makes this fantastic journey possible!

Hill back to where his BTCC journey began

Hill back to where his BTCC journey began

Aged just 19 back in 2013, BRDC ‘Rising Star’ Jake Hill had been struggling to raise a budget to race, and was facing a season off, not by choice of course, when completely unexpectedly the call came that would change his career.

Having tested for Motorbase at the end of 2012, Hill had impressed sufficiently that when regular driver Liam Griffin was unable to race at Croft, the chance was given to him to make his BTCC debut at the North Yorkshire venue.
“We were fighting like crazy to raise a budget, but it was just proving so tough. Then the chance came, we managed to get the funds required, and out of no-where I was going to make my BTCC debut!”
Hill impressed and went on to Win the Jack Sears Trophy on his debut (then for older spec. S2000cars), standing on the podium with Turkington, Shedden and Neal…a surreal experience (below)….!”
“I managed to have a brilliant race, Won my class, should have won race three too…but to have made my debut and got on the podium it was incredible. It gave me the momentum to show I was ready to compete in BTCC”
“I have been very fortunate that firstly Motorbase, then RAR (at the end of 2013), and AmD (at the end of 2015) gave me the chance to race, and that brought me to the attention of Tony Gilham at Team HARD….and the rest is history!”
“I can’t thank everyone who gave me the chance enough, but I am loving now being a Dunlop BTCC regular, and this is my third full season with Tony, and he has believed in me and made this possible, as have his awesome partners like Trade Price Cars, Oodle and Click Dealer.”
“Plus I have the support of some amazing, loyal and passionate people – Brisky Racing, Rolec Racing, Sportif Cars, Ecoflam, Danfoss, ABGO, Bill Rawles Classic Cars, AWS Appliance Spares, ScoriaTech, Jakob Ebrey Photography, Zynth, P1 Nutrition, Octane Hair, Cloud 9, ModelWorld, TechMax and lots, lots more over the years…and I am hugely proud to be part of the BRDC ‘Rising Stars’ programme…so I would just love to be back on the podium at Croft again…five years later!”
“This year I have Won the Independant’s Class and taken 2nd overall at Brands, took the 2018 version of the Jack Sears Trophy at Donington and the Dunlop ForeverForward award there….and I am still leading the Dunlop ForeverForward series going into Croft. We made big progress in the final race at Oulton, so I hope we can carry this on here – I love Croft – I won my first ever car race in Ginetta Junior in 2009 here – so let’s hope for more podiums!”
Qualifying is live this Saturday 23rd June on line atitv.com/btcc at 15.20, then all three BTCC races are LIVE on ITVHD4 on Sunday 24th June – race one at 12.05pm – race two at 14.45pm – race three at 17.25pm
Hill battles to BTCC points in the park

Hill battles to BTCC points in the park

Maintaining his 100% finishing record in the 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, and his lead in the Dunlop #ForeverForward category for most places gained, Trade Price Cars Brisky Racing’s Jake Hill battled into the championship points in the final race of the weekend at Oulton Park.

Having qualified a season’s best P21 Hill struggled in race one with the balance of the car, finishing P23, and heading to the pitlane minutes before race two had the car’s differential fail.

Incredibly Hill’s crew sprinted into action and with just seconds to spare managed to change the ‘diff’ and get Hill into the pitlane, being allowed to join the grid, but start P31and last.

“As frustrating as it is to have a failure, at least it happened when and where it did. I could not believe the job the boys did – Jamie, Josh, Carl, Nathan and the rest of the lads were amazing – I can’t thank them enough – even my Dad helped – admittedly only by holding up the bonnet! – but they got me out there and that was incredible!”

Jake Hill Oulton Park

Determined to make up places on a circuit notoriously difficult to pass, Hill had a sensational start – moving up 7 places by the first corner – and gaining further places when Oliphant, Cook and Jelley hit problems. Later as Boardman dropped back, it meant a further gain, and a final finish of P21, again fighting hard.

So for there final race of the weekend, BRDC ‘Rising Star’ Hill was determined to score some points, however was fortunate not to be caught up in a spectacular start-line accident which saw Oliphant, Butcher, Smiley and Lloyd all tangle and retire with massive damage – fortunately all were ok – but the race was stopped to clear up the debris.

At the re-start, Hill immediately gained a place from Plato, ending lap one on target and already in the points in P15.

As Cammish and Smith dropped back, Hill was setting quick lap times, and capitalised on Neal running wide before catching Proctor and pulling off a sensational pass into Old Hall, slicing by in a brave late-braking pass, now P10.

Charging hard and now on the back of his team-mate Bushell, a last-lap surge saw Ingram pass Cole, who ran wide and lost time, allowing Hill to catch and dive for the inside, tapping the back of Cole and passing him for P9.

Afterwards though the officials reversed the positions leaving Hill P10, but still very satisfied to have proved his race craft and determination yet again, and taking his third points score of the season.

“The car was SO good in that race! Back to when it was strong here last year, if we can get the car like this in qualifying from now on we could be in really good shape!  It was frustrating to have the place reversed at the end, James moved over very late ‘cos he ran wide at the previous corner, so one of those things but still really pleased with that race. Hugely grateful to all our fantastic partners who joined us at Oulton – Trade Price Cars, Oodle, ClickDealer, Ecoflam…our new partners ABGO and my friend Graham Saul from Cloud 9 Hosts, plus those not here like ROLEC,Brisky Racing, Sportif Cars, Danfoss, Scoria Tech, Bill Rawles Classic Cars, Zynth, Spine Optics, P1 Nutrition – great to do well for everyone!”

 

Next race – Croft – June 23/24th – Qualifying live on itv.com/btcc

Hill shows fighting spirit at Thruxton

Hill shows fighting spirit at Thruxton

Leaving the fastest circuit on the calendar, Thruxton in Hampshire, Trade Price Cars Brisky Racing’s Jake Hill praised his team for the huge efforts over the weekend, whilst recognising ‘it was a tough weekend ‘ for all four VW CC’s on track.

Hill and team-mate Mike Bushell had shown promise in practice, both running in the top-half of the times, but come qualifying the competition found additional pace, seeing Bushell qualify 19th, Hill 25th and causing some confusion.

“We were feeling ok with the balance of the cars, but qualifying just didn’t unlock the pace we expected” said Hill.

Starting race one, a strong opening lap saw Hill move past Plato and Price then pass Nash at the end of the lap, then a problem for Ingram mid-race saw another place gained. Late on a battle between Cole and Hill’s team-mate Bushell saw side-by-side action and Hill edge past his colleague, to ultimately finish a hard-fought 20th.

“Was a really different feel to the car and the circuit temperature was over 40 degrees, so it was tough to understand how to get the best out of the car. I was so pleased to have made progress – only Josh Cook made up more places!”

Jake Hill Thruxton

Race two saw major changes to the car’s set-up, Hill saying his crew were’ Epic’ in getting things done in the time available, and a race-long battle with Jackson was settled in favour of the Audi driver late on, and Ingram headed past, but issues ahead for Smith, Oliphant, Cole and Cammish saw an eventual finish of 18th overall, but more progress.

“Jackson and I made contact late on but the car stood up to it even though it was a bit fairy after that! We learned a bit more about the set-up, so we have more data to look at and will try hard once more for race three”

In the final race Hill was promoted a couple of places when Ash Sutton had issues on the warm-up lap, and more seriously former champion Andrew Jordan was taken to hospital with the after effects of food poisoning, and a solid opening lap saw him up into P15 – the final points paying position – having passed Jackson.

Maintaining a solid pace early on, a charging Cammish in the factory Honda passed mid-race, with Butcher following on through, and thereafter a professional drive saw Hill bring the car home in 17th, once again having moved forward.

“A very challenging weekend. We tried so many things and worked so hard as a team, but just never got what we needed from the car – and that was the same for all four of us. We have made progress – I moved forward in all-three race,  finished all three races – with no damage which is rare in BTCC – and I come away still leading the Dunlop #ForeverForward award for most places made up. We will work very hard to ensure we are back in the mix at Oulton Park next time out”

“We had lovely weather and a great group of guests with us – a huge thanks to all of them and it was lovely to see Richard Wheeler and his guests from Brisky Racing, Dean Barrett from Rolec, Mark McElroy from Danfoss, Roger Burgess from Scoria Tech, Paul Kenney, Mike Jarvis….for the first time this season Bill Rawles, and as always a big thanks to John Miskin, plus of course everyone from Team HARD, Trade Price Cars and all of our partners”

“I had three top-ten finishes at Oulton Park last year, and absolutely love the track. I know the boys will work hard on getting things right – our team-manager Jamie, plus the lads on my car, Josh, Carl, Nathan, Gary, my engineer Yahor and everyone else were awesome, and we will do all we can to be back in the points again”

Hill wins Jack Sears trophy and Dunlop Forever Forward award in Donington Park thriller

Hill wins Jack Sears trophy and Dunlop Forever Forward award in Donington Park thriller

After being relegated to the back of the 32-car grid in qualifying, Trade Price Cars Brisky Racing driver Jake Hill demonstrated superb race craft and determination, charging up to a remarkable 17th place in race one, topping this with a drive from 22nd on the grid in to finish 10th in the day’s final race, and with it take the Jack Sears Trophy along with the Dunlop #ForeverForward award for most overtakes over the three races.

A ride-height infringement during Saturday’s wet qualifying saw Hill’s times disallowed whilst 10th on the grid, the team subsequently working hard to ensure he had a strong car for the three races – all which turned out to be dry.

“Of course it was hugely frustrating to lose the qualifying times, but my engineers and I sat down and worked out a set-up for the races, and my focus was on keeping out of trouble and finishing as well as possible in race one”

Some daring overtakes – all captured by ITV4 HD’s ‘on-board’ cameras – and dramas for other drivers saw Hill quickly up to P18, then  a battle with Jordan’s BMW,  then passing Nash’s Honda on the final lap resulted in a hard-earned 17th.

Jake Donington Team HARD

“The plan worked – I kept out of trouble, had a couple of good battles, and we are making progress” smiled Hill.

Starting 17th on the ‘Option’ hard Dunlop SportMaxx tyre for race two, a number of fierce battles, some braking issues and the tyre losing performance meant Hill was frustrated to finish 22nd, but pleased he was still in contention.

“We struggled a bit in that one, the ‘Hard’ tyre was ok initially and we were on for a possible P12, but the performance dropped off so quickly, I got pushed off line and lost a load of time, but at least we finished in sensible shape”

Having changed the brakes for the final race, and now back on the preferred ‘Prime’ tyre, BRDC ‘Rising Star’ Hill made a strong start and then benefitted from other drivers going off and having problems ahead – contact between Motorbase team-mates Cole and Tordoff bringing out a Safety Car, with Hill now running in P17.

A strong re-start saw Hill quickly pass Jackson, then Goff hit problems, and on lap 12 of 19 a brave and committed move – captured on Hill’s on board camera – saw him pass Austin around the outside and at one point on the grass at the fearsome Craner Curves, for many watching this being the move of the day.

As the laps ran down, Butcher dropped back and a frantic battle with WTCC Independent Champion Tom Chilton’s Ford Focus RS, saw the pair cross the line nose-to-tail, Hill finishing in the points in a superb 10th overall.

“What a battle! The car was so much better – great work by Egor and Geoff, Jamie, Nathan, Roy and the lads for their hard work. Bit of an edgy move with Austin but fair play he gave me enough room, then it was so close with me and Tom, but P10 is a crazy result after starting race one dead last! Huge thanks to Tony (Gilham) and the team, and of course my mega partners – we had guests here  from ROLEC, Sportif Cars, AWS Appliance Spares, Ecoflam, Trade Price Cars, Brisky Racing plus friends and family – I’m SO pleased to have Won the Jack Sears and Forever Forward”

“My team-manager Jamie (Warren) was told on the radio by the officials that I’d Won the Jack Sears, but didn’t tell me, so it was a complete shock when I was given a Dunlop Winner’s cap and told to head to the podium! Almost half the grid are eligible for Jack Sears – and in the 60th Anniversary season of Jack winning the first-ever BTCC it means so much winning this round. I am 4th in the standings now, 9th in Independent’s and leading the Dunlop #ForeverForward, so it shows that you have to focus on race day in BTCC. I still would rather have been on Pole though!”

Jake Donington Team HARD

Next Race – Thruxton – 19/20th May – Races LIVE on ITV4HD and on-line at itv.com/btcc