Team HARD scored their best placed finish in the BTCC with a 2nd placed finish by Jake Hill in the 2nd round of the Championship at Brands Hatch last weekend.
Going into the races the Team HARD drivers had managed to qualify their VW CC’s in 22nd (Mike Bushell) 25th (Jake Hill) 27th (Bobby Thompson) and 30th (Michael Caine) after a very close qualifying session where the top 30 drivers were covered by just 0.921 seconds.
In the opening race Mike Bushell retired early after unfortunate contact with teammate Jake Hill. Bobby Thompson and Michael Caine had solid first races to start their campaign. Both managed to make up a number of positions and finished 19th and 21st respectively.
The second race of the day was where all the action happened. The rain had just eased off and there was a decision to make whether to go on wets or risk slick tyres. Mike Bushell and Jake Hill took the gamble to go with slicks. Up until the 10th lap the track was still favouring the wet shod cars but a dry line started to appear and the slicks shod cars were able to scythe their way through the field. Hill and Bushell were on a charge. Hill’s cause was helped with a coming together between Moffat and Proctor that demoted Moffat down the order. As the laps came down Hill kept pushing for the win. In the end he had to settle for 2nd place which was greeted with immense emotion in the Team HARD garages. With Mike Bushell bringing his VW CC in 8th position it was a double celebration for the team. Michael Caine scored another solid 24th position while a mechanical fault brought Bobby Thompson’s race to a premature end 5 laps from the finish.
After the frantic finish of the second race, the team were brought down with a bump in race 3 with Moffat making contact with Jake Hill on the warm up lap causing damage to the rear toe link of Jake’s car that meant he was destined to finish 3 laps down after the team had made some repairs.
After the heroics of Jake in the 2nd race it was time for Mike Bushell to step forward. ‘Bomber’ Bushell didn’t disappoint with a robust drive that saw him take a well earned 5th place and the lead in the Dunlop ‘Forever Forward’ award, which rewards drivers for the number of places that they have made up during the race weekend. Continuing his solid results, Michael Caine scored a 24th placed finish while Bobby Thompson finished 26th. Jake Hill was classified 29th, 3 laps down.
Mike Bushell 10th – 19 pts
Jake Hill 12th – 17 pts
Bobby Thompson 26th – 0 pts
Michael Caine 29th – 0 pts
Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing 3rd – 36 pts
Team HARD with Trade Price Cars 19th – 0 pts
Mike Bushell 8th – 22 pts
Jake Hill 10th – 20 pts
Bobby Thompson 19th – 0 pts
Michael Caine 20th – 0 pts
Independent Teams Championship
Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing 3rd – 37 pts
Team HARD with Trade Price Cars 14th – 11 pts
Jack Sears Trophy
Mike Bushell 5th – 33pts
Jake Hill 8th – 28 pts
Michael Caine 9th – 21 pts
Bobby Thompson 13th – 14 pts
“Qualifying was frustrating, and race one saw contact with my team mate Mike (Bushell) which was tough. But on the grid for race two my team manager Jamie and I said over the radio ‘On three say which tyres…3-2-1- ‘SLICKS’….!!!! So we went for it.”
“Oh my word that was CRAZY! We decided last-minute to go to slicks, it was always going to be sketchy, but very early on I knew we’d made the right choice. The car was mega, I had a look at passing both Proctor and Moffat but they were so defensive so it wasn’t worth the risk. I am beyond happy! I am so, so grateful to so many people who have helped me get to this point – obviously the legendary Tony Gilham and the boys at Team HARD, especially Geoff (Kingston) and Jamie, Josh, Carl, Nathan and Gary who have been on my car….my amazing supporters. I have to say I would not be racing in anything – let alone BTCC – without their help.
I’m worried I will forget someone – but my 2018 partners Rolec Racing, Trade Price Cars, the awesome Richard Wheeler from Brisky Racing, Ecoflam, Danfoss, Bill Rawles Classic Cars, AWS Appliance Spares, Scoria Tech, Zynth, Jakob Ebrey Photos, Spine Optics, P1 Nutrition, Tech Max Pro Gear, Torq, Luke at the BRDC,….but the one person who has been with me since the beginning, from Ginetta Juniors in 2010 to now and has never, ever let me down is my ‘Papa Smurf’…John Miskin from Sportif Motor Group…..I am so unbelievably grateful for everyone’s love and support ……Tony Gilham and the whole Team HARD crew have believed in me since 2016, I love this team, I love Tony, Gary, Jamie, Sam and everyone…David Boor and Andrea and the Fantham family and the whole crew are amazing! I am so HAPPY!!!!!!”
“I wanted to arrive this year as a different Mike Bushell and I think I’ve proved that in winning the first Forever Forward award and almost scoring a maiden podium on my BTCC return. I’ll be continuing my ‘no fear’ approach from this weekend onwards”
“The car is perfect, I’m comfortable in it. I’m already quick, but as I learnt from winning two Clio Cup titles… I need to smooth out my rough edges and learn what precision means in the BTCC”
“For me it was a great weekend ! I am still learning the car and starting to understand what I need from it ! I can’t thank everybody at Team HARD enough for the way they looked after my family and sponsors ! I think it’s going to be a great year.”
“I won both VW Cup races and set a new VW Cup lap record at Brands last season, said Bobby. “I knew I wouldn’t be in a position to repeat those results on my first BTCC weekend and although not everything went exactly as planned, the day as a whole was truly unforgettable.”
“Physically I am fine as I train in the gym two hours a night but nobody can really make you understand how demanding the BTCC is until you experience it. Apart from the three races you have the autograph session, the drivers parade and the team’s own Question and Answer session in their hospitality unit for all our sponsors and because Tony (Gilham, Team HARD principal) makes sure that as many fans and supporters can see inside the garage there are always lots of well-wishers and fans who want to chat and wish you luck.”
“For MY first weekend it has been incredible. I have had so much support from the fans and I know that I will be a lot stronger at Donington Park for the next three races just because I have had the whole BTCC ‘race weekend’ experience under my belt. But I also know that the team have a really good package that is capable of being on the podium as we proved today with Jake (Hill) and I’ll be pushing harder than ever for stronger results next time.”
“It’s been a lot of hours, a lot of time, a lot of hard work,” explained Gilham. “So today has been emotional – they are essentially four brand new cars – there’s very little remaining from last year’s car. We rolled the dice a little bit with the chassis changes but we trust in our engineering team and it’s paid dividends out the box.
It was a decent start to the year at one of our weakest circuits. So it’s been a good weekend. We had a little bit of a lucky break, but it was also an educated risk to go for the slick tyre in race two so it’s nice to take that risk and for it to pay off.”
Based at Goudhurst just 20 miles from Brands Hatch, 24 year-old BRDC ‘Rising Star’ Jake Hill completed further useful mileage at his local circuit Brands Hatch today, in the final official pre-season test on board his Trade Price Cars Brisky Racing VW CC 2018 Edition just a week before the opening round of the 2018 BTCC Series.
During the morning session, Hill instantly recorded strong times, within a few laps moving into the top-three when all the cars were on track, just 0.1 seconds away from the fastest time, this whilst all the cars were running on ‘old’ tyres.
“My engineers and me were keen to do as many laps as consistently as possible. We had a minor issue with the battery early on, but once on track the car’s balance was again really good, a few little tweaks were needed to get certain areas where they needed to be. Really pleased with the performance, and very happy with the package we go to Brands with”
After lunch torrential rain fell, many cars opting to sit out the session, Hill venturing out to get some valuable wet-weather running, but quickly realising just how risky the conditions were on track.
“We didn’t run during the wet part of the session at Media Day on Tuesday, and let’s face it there’s always a chance of rain at any BTCC race, so it was important to get some laps in. The car was really balanced, I felt really confident, but didn’t see the point in risking the car” smiled Hill.
Team HARD team-principle Tony Gilham was pleased with the pace all four drivers showed on the day.
“Bobby (Thompson) is still learning the car but has impressed mightily so far, Michael (Caine) has shown that his experience and pace is invaluable, Mike (Bushell) put himself 7th overall in the morning which is fantastic considering he is also still getting to grips with the car, and Jake has been on the pace in every session so far. Our chief engineer Geoff Kingston is really pleased with how things are moving on, so we’re all really ready for next week”
Hill’s final thoughts on what will be his third season in BTCC with Team HARD.
“I feel so at home, Tony, Gary, Jamie and the team have worked hard to move forward, we have some great partners, and I am ready to challenge for silverware. I qualified in the top-ten several times last year, so my aim is to be there regularly again, and crucially fight for podiums, Independent wins and Jack Sears Trophy points. It’s my home race so I really want to start the season strongly and see what we can do from there. It should be mega!”
After his first day driving the 2018 Edition Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing VW CC at Snetterton today, BRDC Rising Star Jake Hill described the car as ‘better in every way’ compared to his 2017 machine.
‘It’s been a massive learning curve, but the car felt great straight away, we had a few teething troubles which is normal, but the balance and most importantly the performance of the car was incredible. Working with our engineers Geoff (Kingston) and Phil (Overall) has been amazing – they got me thinking about how to get the most out of the car and understanding how it works so quickly – already I can feel how much of a step forward we have made with the car, and how much Geoff and Phil will improve me, as well as the car.’
Hill completed several short runs, culminating with a late-afternoon run which was hampered by traffic but gave him and the team some all-important data on how the car was behaving.
“Considering it was basically a shake-down we got going very well – I’m extremely pleased with the work we’ve done. Delighted with Jake’s lap times today, and how the car is working – I can tell by the size of Jake’s grin just how happy he is with the car! said Kingston.
The team’s other drivers Michael Caine, Bobby Thompson and Mike Bushell also completed several runs and were working through various other programmes, all of which provided vital track time and useful data.
Team Principle Tony Gilham was delighted with what the team achieved ‘It’s the first time Jake and Michael’s cars have run, and only the second day for Mike (Bushell) and Bobby. We have had a massive development programme and I cannot tell you how impressed I am by the work that Jamie and the guys at the workshop have done, and of course the design and engineering work that Geoff has delivered. Jake is our real benchmark having raced the car last year, so his pace and his feedback has been telling – already he has developed a strong relationship with Geoff, and crucially he is already happy with the changes made’
Expanding to four cars and with Kingston’s engineering input, Gilham feels confident that based on this early showing the team is in a very strong position for 2018.
“We have improved every season since we rejoined BTCC in 2015. Year-on-year the team and it’s partners have moved forward, and this year it’s the biggest step and biggest statement yet. We now have the drivers, engineers, technicians and partners to show what we really can do. It’s only testing I know, but I am SO excited about what today has shown us! smiled Gilham.
The team will test again tomorrow with all drivers except a flu-ridden Hill, and will then focus on preparing for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship Media Day at Donington Park on 27th March.
“We still have lots to do, but so far all the signs are very good. And the cars look fantastic too!
23 year-old British Racing Driver’s Club ‘Rising Star’ Jake Hill says he is ‘very confident’ of challenging for success with Team HARD Brisky Racing, having today re-signed with Tony Gilham’s squad for a third successive Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season.
Goudhurst-Based Hill starred in his first season with the team in 2016, impressing with his pace and race craft in the team’s Toyota Avensis, continuing to put in several noteworthy performances in 2017 in the VW CC, especially during qualifying, putting the car in the top-ten on five occasions.
“Last season we had some great pace, but our results didn’t really reflect just how competitive we really were. So for 2018 I am really excited to be part of Team HARD Brisky Racing again. I can’t thank Tony, Gary, Kingsley and the guys enough for the faith they have shown in me and the opportunity to continue our journey together. With Geoff (Kingston) on board and seeing the impact he has already made, implementing several fairly major technical changes to the car, I know we will be in a really strong position to regularly challenge at the front”
“My friend and long-time supporter Richard Wheeler from Brisky Racing is an integral part of making this possible for me, and for helping things move forwards with the team. Without him this simply wouldn’t be possible, I am hugely grateful for the faith he’s shown in me”
“Bobby (Thompson), Mike (Bushell) and me will work well together and push each other along, and being paired with Mike to score team points together, I’m really confident we will be in the hunt for the Independent Team’s title. I’m eligible for the Jack Sears Trophy so will do everything I can to challenge for that honour, and of course the Independent Driver’s championship” said Hill.
Team principle Tony Gilham knows Hill’s strengths and was determined to retain his services for 2018. “We have seen what Jake can do, and we wanted to use his experience and technical strength as well as outright pace to help us continue making progress. It’s great to have continuity and Jake is part of the family here. The addition of Brisky Racing has seen us move forward. We already have some great people here, and a fantastic level of support for the team, so the combination of Geoff’s input and Jake’s speed we are very confident that we will be in the mix right from the start of the season”
This is what I have been waiting for. The chance to genuinely challenge at the front – I am SO looking forward to this! I think Team HARD Brisky Racing will be worth watching in 2018!” said Hill.
At the end of a frantic 30-race Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season at Brands Hatch, Subaru driver Ashley Sutton was crowned overall Champion after a tussle with BMW’s Colin Turkington. Meanwhile 23 year-old local hero Jake Hill, from nearby Goudhurst, once again starred in qualifying and took hard-earned points in the final race.
Finishing practice 7th, Hill’s TAG Racing crew worked to ensure the #24 machine was in top-form for qualifying, BRDC ‘Rising Star’ Hill charging to a spectacular 8th overall, the fifth time in ten events he had achieved this during the season.
“My guys did an awesome job, the car was fantastic. It was raining at the start of the session and there were two red flags went Smith and Cook went off so I think I could have found a bit more time but I’m really pleased” said Hill.
In changeable conditions drivers were left with a tough decision whether to go with wet-weather tyres or slick tyres on the grid – Hill, Jordan, Plato, Cook, Taylor-Smith and Lines going for ‘wets’.
A superb opening lap saw Hill benefit from Pole-Man Goff spinning and also slice past Austin and Chilton and then Matt Neal and up to an impressive 4th place….when the news broke that the officials had judged he was rolling at the start, which is classified as a false start and resulted in a drive-through-penalty, and dropped down to the tail of the field.
“I was gutted – I genuinely didn’t realise – the grid is downhill so it must have moved just enough. The bigger problem was that we opted for wet-weather tyres, which was the wrong call – we were about 6 seconds slower than the guys on slicks – so I might have finished a few places higher – but it was P26 – at least I beat Plato and Jordan!”
Starting 25th as Jelley was unable to start, this time in the dry and on the option ‘soft’ tyre Hill was passed by the rear-wheel drive cars of Jordan and Plato off the line, but immediately re-passe Plato at Druids Hairpin and when Depper spun was back to P26.
A charging few laps saw Hill pass Cook, Whorton-Eales and later Jordan and a lap later both Cole and Butcher. Then Smiley lost ground as did Simpson, so Hill ended a strong drive in 16th place, finishing just behind Ollie Jackson.
“The car was really good – I think we set fifth-fastest lap, and I was pleased to make up so many places, just frustrating I was held up when the car was at it’s best. The ‘soft’ tyres went away towards the end otherwise I think I would have caught and passed Ollie. At least we are in good shape to score some points in the final race.”
As rain again fell just before the final race, almost all the drivers went for wet-weather tyres, and Hill made a strong start, immediately passing Ollie Jackson and Aron Taylor-Smith. Then on lap two championship-contender Turkington collided with Mat Jackson and was forced to retire – ending his challenge – and when Proctor slid off the safety car came out. By now Hill had also passed Chilton and Brett Smith so was into the top-ten.
A strong restart saw Hill challenging race-one winner Moffat, challenging the Mercedes driver for several laps, eventually diving past at Hawthorns Bend, by which time Morgan had closed in and passed later on in the lap.
Late in the race Hill had a fierce scrap with Newsham, Butcher and Smiley, but Hill was able to edge away and finish the season with a hard-earned 10th place and scoring points for the 11th time in season.
“Really good pace but I was stuck behind Aiden for a while – I think I could have challenged the group ahead otherwise – but so pleased to have finished in the top-ten again. Huge thanks to Tony Gilham, Gary Allen and Kingsley Lewis from Team HARD for all of their hard-work and support, and all of the boys working on the car, and my engineers Dan and Andrew who made a huge difference.”
“I wouldn’t be racing without the support of lots of awesome people – TAG Racing, Rolec Racing, Sportif Motor Group, Brisky Racing, Ecoflam, Danfoss, AWS Appliance Spares, Bill Rawles Classic Cars, Zynth, JD Pierce, Midhurst Electrical, Cairngall Motor Services, ICLWM, Robin, Jason, Litchfield Motors, Spincar and everyone who has supported me – plus the team’s partners – I cannot thank everyone enough. I feel we have done a really good job – especially in qualifying – but have had some terrible luck, without which I know we would have taken a lot more points and maybe even a podium or two. I aim to be back and even stronger in 2018!” smiled Hill