Best ever BTCC season for Hill
Best ever BTCC season for Hill

“Just an amazing year” was how Jake Hill reflected on his best season yet in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship, battling to three points scoring finishes in the season finale in the gloom at Brands Hatch, and taking his Motorbase Performance-run Ford Focus ST to 5th overall.

27 year-old Hill began the weekend 4th overall in the points, and 45 points behind championship leader Ash Sutton, so still with a mathematical chance of becoming 2021 BTCC Champion.

“We’ve had such a strong year, so to be going into the final weekend in with a shout is incredible. We had a good couple of free practice sessions, so feel good about our chance in qualifying”

During the 30 minute qualifying session Hill looked strong early on,  despite carrying 48kgs success ballast, but in an incredibly close session ended up 0.3 seconds away from Pole, starting P11 just ahead of team-mate Ollie Jackson.

Starting the first of the three, 15 lap races Hill struggled off the line and lost out to both Jackson and Oliphant, and initially Ingram although managed to repass the Hyundai later in the lap.

Hill battled hard with points-rival Ingram, the pair sweeping past Jelley late on and banging wheels, but Hill holding off Ingram at the finish to take a well-earned P12.

“That was hard work. Didn’t really have the balance in the car we hoped, so to be able to hold Tom (Ingram) behind despite that was a result really! At least the success ballast comes out now so hopefully should make some progress in race two”

A stronger start saw Hill and Ingram battle into Druids Hairpin on the opening lap, the pair tangling and Hill’s car being pushed sideways, resulting in him dropping to 21st. However a couple of corners later Hill’s team-mate Jackson was spun by Chilton, then collected by Oliphant and Morgan, with Ingram running wide Hill meaning ended lap one in P15.

“I had a better start but then at Druids got an almighty whack and almost ended going off backwards. Then it all kicked off at Surtees and I was lucky not to get caught up in it. A real shame for Ollie (Jackson) as he did a great job in race one”

As the cars circulated behind the Safety Car the Race Officials restarted the race with very little notice to the teams, leaving the grid spread out, and Hill now battling hard, passing Boardley into Paddock Bend before setting the fastest lap of the race.

Charging after team-mate Osborne, Hill quickly passing at Clearways, before Moffat spun  ahead and then Smiley slowed, putting Hill up to P11.

A lap later a slick move saw Goff passed, Hill then working hard as the tyre performance dropped to bring the car home in P10.

Up ahead a P6 finish for Ash Sutton meant he retained the BTCC Championship after an impressive season, with Josh Cook taking his second win of the day, and with it moving up to 3rd in points, ahead of both Hill and Ingram.

“The car was much better initially, right on the pace, but later the tyres went off badly, so I was really pleased to get to P10, especially after being outside of the top-ten on the opening lap. Big congratulations to Ash (Sutton) on taking the title, he’s been so strong all year and hasn’t put a foot wrong. Well deserved”

The final race of the 2021 season saw Stephen Jelley drawn on Pole Position, Hill losing out to Ingram and Goff at the start, but repassing the Seat in a daring move at Hawthorns on lap one.

Lap two saw Turkington bundled off track and Hill pass Lloyd and now up into P9, charging after Shedden, passing the Scotsman a lap later before passing his countryman Butcher at Cleaways.

“The car was hooked up. Just transformed so I knew I could genuinely challenge and was determined to make my way through”

A four-lap Safety Car period neutralised the field, Hill immediately catching Jelley who had been edged wide by Sutton and Rowbottom. As the pair came out of Graham Hill, the #24 Ford switched from the outside to dive inside the BMW, catching Jelley out who turned in and spun around the front of Hill’s nose. Hill then set about closing on Cook’s Honda, and on lap 11 when the Cook and Chilton ran side-by-side, Hill perfectly timed a run to their inside and  swept past both and up into P4.

Quickly pulling away, the focus now was to try and catch and pass Ingram in the remaining 7 laps.

Having set fastest lap it looked possible, but the effort in making his way through the pack had taken it’s toll on his tyres and he brought the car home P4 after a frantic race.

“That race just summed up the BTCC. Absolutely brilliant, loads of overtakes, some pretty bruising stuff but a great finish to a just brilliant season”

“Most importantly a massive thank you to everyone in the team. From Motorbase team-principle Pete Osborne, to the team managers Rob Tickner and Oly Collins, and of course my ’24 car crew’ – my engineer Craig, my mechanics Ben, Rob and Adam, Data ‘Dan’ my tyre-man Ian, Nathan, plus Dave, Ross and John from Mountune who have been brilliant to work with. Also a huge thanks to the MB Motorsport folks, from Mark (Blundell) to Alex Watts, Mikey, Tom, Alice, George, and Andy – and of course ‘Moly Micky’ for all his help. Also it’s been an honour to be part of the BRDC ‘Supertstars’ programme – thanks so much for their support.

“On top of that I have some fantastic partners, without whom I simply wouldn’t be racing, many who have supported me and believed in me for a long time. A huge thanks to Diamondbrite, Racetruck, Logicall, CMC Civils, Smarttrams, Ocean Fire & Security, CNCCT, Scoriatech, Bill Rawles Classic Cars, Ecoflam, ABGO, Danfoss, Garry Jones, Point CNC, Modelworld, Tweedl, Aston Lark, Liqui Moly, Cobra Exhausts, Caravan & Motorhome Club, The Car Co plus all the MB Motorsport partners.

“It’s a long, tough season and I am so grateful to not just the team and my partners, but also my girlfriend Hannah, my good friend John Miskin, all my friends, my Mum Tina and Sister Ellie, Jake Aliker and of course my Dad Simon who along with Shaun Hollamby have worked incredibly hard and believed in me more than anyone.

“This has been my best-season by far. From Thruxton in May when I had three podiums and led the championship we never dropped out of the top-five, and had an amazing run – 25 points scoring finishes, with the highlights being the Wins at Croft and Silverstone, plus 9 Podiums and 2 Fastest Laps.

“Thanks to everyone for making this happen, I cannot wait to see what 2022 will bring. For now though, time for a bit of a rest, just maybe some RC Racing for a while!”

Images courtesy of https://psp-images.photoshelter.com

TAGS:  

 
Seo