Jake Hill takes best ever finish in blistering Thruxton BTCC battle
The fastest track on the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship schedule, the 2.35 mile Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire played host for rounds 7, 8 and 9 of the series and saw Goudhurst’s Jake Hill record his best-ever finish in the UK’s leading series in round 7.
22 year-old Hill qualified a strong 15th overall and 8th in the Independent class and from the outset of race one was part of one of the most fiercely fought and entertaining races of the season so far, sandwiched between Donington winner’s Mat Jackson and Rob Collard.
Hill’s RCIB Insurance racing Toyota Avensis actually started 14th as Colin Turkington and his Team BMR Subaru Levorg team-mates were withdrawn on safety grounds, and immediately was fighting hard whilst being mindful of conserving his tyres.
“Dunlop provide a tyre just for Thruxton because it is so fast and abrasive here. They give all the teams very clear instructions on how the must run their cars and tyres – as drivers we have to avoid hitting kerbs and working the front-left tyre too hard, so it’s a balance between doing exactly that and not being too cautious. The team gave me a really good car so I was comfortable staying with Mat and ahead of Jack (Goff) and Rob’s BMWs”
Hill had passed Goff on the opening lap, and as the race unfolded both Aiden Moffat and Mat Jackson suffered punctures, and with Ash Sutton’s MG6 being pushed off the circuit and Aron Smith stopping Hill was now running 10th and a clever move exiting the chicane saw him pass Martin Depper’s Eurotech Honda and up to 9th as they started lap 11 of 16.
As the pack led by Adam Morgan approached the end of the lap, championship leader Matt Neal also picked up a puncture, straight-lined the chicane and attempted to bring the car in the pits, moving suddenly across Josh Cook, causing them both to collide and in the ensuing melee 2015 Champion Gordon Shedden was spun into the wall and an unsighted Jake had no-where to go, slamming into Neal’s spinning Honda at almost 100mph.
Immediately Hill grabbed first gear and continued, albeit with serious damage to the No.24 machine, and when moments later the race was stopped was classified 10th as Welch had passed after the contact with Neal, this still being Hill’s best-ever championship finish.
“The car was working well and I was into the top-ten on pace and might have even moved forward in the remaining laps. We’d looked after the tyres well and our pace at been really consistent. Then it all went crazy in front and I had no chance of missing Matt. But I’ve been classified 10th which is my best-ever finish and some more points scored”
However the car sustained serious damage and it required some frantic work from Hill’s Team HARD crew, somehow managing to strip the damage to the car and rebuild, refettle
and set the car up, somehow completing the task with only a couple of minutes to spare.
“The bumper, wings, bonnet, intercooler, crash structure, floor and loads of other little parts were all destroyed, so it’s gonna be a real struggle to find the budget to cover this but we’ll find a way. Unbelievable job by my guys Ian, Kieren, Peter, Greg, Ivan and Elliot”
Hill started round 8 strongly and was running 10th when a clash of wheels with Austin saw him bundled down the order and finished a battling 17th, just outside the points.
“The car was good but not quite where we were before and when I got pushed wide I lost a couple of places but then Neal, Shedden, Smith and Jackson all came through. Bit frustrating but we’ll regroup and go again for race three”
Round 9 saw another fighting drive that saw Hill see-saw from his starting position of 17th, into the top 15th, then down to 17th as tyre issues and mechanical problems affected the competition, eventually working hard to secure 13th and his second points scoring finish.
“Really pleased to have scored points in two races, and want to say a huge thanks and well-done to my team for all their hard work. My team mate Mike (Epps) also scored some good points so overall we’ve had a strong weekend at a very tough circuit – and it was blisteringly hot too – around 45 degrees in the car after race two! Now we will work hard on getting things sorted for Oulton Park in a few weeks, one of my favourite tracks”