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Hill victorious at Donington Historic Festival
Hill victorious at Donington Historic Festival

Jake Hill was back on the top step of the podium at the weekend as he took victory at the Donington Historic Festival.

After only getting a call from Era Motorsport boss Kyle Tilley at 4.30pm on Friday, Jake Hill hurriedly packed his race kit and set off up the M1 from his home in Kent to Donington Park, to join Tilley in sharing his beautiful 1965 TVR Griffith in the  3 Hour Royal Automobile Pall Mall Cup, Hill only jumping in the car for the first time in qualifying on Saturday morning.

30 year-old Hill had only returned from Donington Park the previous Sunday, having delivered a strong performance in the opening weekend of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship, where he took a brace of podiums and  left Third in points, and was already scheduled to join Gregor Fiskin in his elegant 1961 E-Type Jaguar in the Pre 63 GT  race  at Donington for Sunday (5th).

“We had a great start in BTCC last week – good points in all three races and lots learned about our heavily revised BMW 330e M-Sport, but I love racing with Gregor and was excited to be coming to drive with him, so to also be asked by Kyle to race the TVR was a big bonus”

Heading into qualifying on Saturday morning, Tilley put in a set of very strong laps to set a solid benchmark early on in the session, putting the car in the top six of the hugely competitive 29 car field.

Hill took over with 10 minutes left in the session, and on only his second flying Lapin the car recorded a 1m 18.491 to take a superb Pole Position by just over 0.2 seconds.

Conscious of saving the car for the race, Hill parked the car, and on the final flying lap was pipped to Pole by 0.001 seconds by the similar TVR of Whittaker.

“What an awesome car! Such a strong engine, handles beautifully and just so much fun to throw about. Bit of a shame we lost out on Pole but making sure we did no more laps than necessary in qualifying should pay off in the race”

Tilley blasted the 400bhp V8 machine  into action at the start of the 3 Hour Race and settled into a rhythm early on, running a strong P5 amongst the other TVR Griffiths, the Daytona Cobra and the E-Type Jaguar. Just over 30 minutes into the race the Safety Car was deployed, and Tilley took the decision to make a mandatory stop to minimise loss of position.

Restarting after a long period behind the Safety Car, Tilley continued to lap consistently, putting in his fastest lap after over an hour in the car, before handing the car over to Hill with just over 85 minutes remaining.

Now running just over 25 seconds behind the leading pack, Hill quickly began lapping in the 1m 20’s bracket, and reducing the gap by almost 2 seconds a lap, when a Safety Car was called with just under an hour left.

Reducing the gap down to just over 5 seconds with a few back-markers between Hill and the leaders, Hill now ‘pulled the pin’ as he said afterwards and began to lap in the 1m19 bracket – his 1m19.560 set on lap 93 being the fastest lap of the race at the time,  this being narrowly beaten by Huff later on.

Quickly Hill caught and passed first the TVR Griffith of Barton/Reuben and then closed down and passed the leading TVR of Whittaker/Davison.

Within a handful of laps Hill had pulled out a 21 second lead, but behind the charging Julian Thomas in the mighty Daytona Cobra began to gradually close in.

Hill though was simply nursing the car home – with progressively fading brakes and worn tyres he delivered an immaculate drive to take an impressive Victory, the car’s second in as many major events, having also Won the  prestigious Graham Hill Trophy at Goodwood last month.

“That was so much fun! The car was so well balanced – the brakes were pretty much gone towards the end but we knew that was likely to be the case – so I was just managing the gap to Julian and brought it home. Kyle did a perfect job in his stint, the Era Motorsport crew were fantastic during the stop, and it was a real honour to be asked. Thanks so much to Kyle and the crew for having me on board, I absolutely loved it!”

Staying at Donington to join Gregor Fiskin in the E-Type for the Pre 63 GT race, Gregor starting the qualifying session and immediately putting the car in the top five of the 21 car grid, before handing over mid session to Hill, who once again proved immediately at home, putting the car third on the grid.

However as the session wound down, Hill was concerned there may be an issue with the car, so slowly returned to the pits.

“The car is effortless to drive, very easy to feel at home with and I was just getting into a nice rhythm when I felt something wasn’t right so brought it in. After the session the team checked it out and sadly the decision was made to withdraw the car. Hopefully we will get a chance to drive it together again sometime soon, but a huge thanks to Gregor and the Fiskins team for the opportunity”

Hill now focuses once again on BTCC, heading to his ‘home’ race at Brands Hatch looking to repeat his Victory there in the final race of last season, and build on his championship points.

“Winning at Brands was so special, especially as it was the final race of the year. That was on the full ‘Grand Prix’ circuit and this time we are on the shorter ‘Indy’ circuit. I got my first ever BTCC podium here in 2018, and have been on the podium three further times, so I will be pushing like crazy to get solid points and of course gunning for a Win”

BTCC Practise is on Saturday morning (11th) with Qualifying live on YouTube at 3.25pm, then races at 11.50am, 2.30pm and 5.15pm on Sunday 11th, all shown live on ITV4HD as always.

“Great to have a win under my belt in 2024 already, let’s see if we can add some more at Brands”

Images courtesy of Era Motorsport