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Mixed emotions for Hill at Brands Hatch
Mixed emotions for Hill at Brands Hatch

Jake Hill experienced mixed emotions in the second round of the 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season, as he claimed a brace of fourth-place finishes before a puncture in the final race of the weekend snatched a possible podium from Jake. 

A positive start to the weekend at Jake’s home event at Brands Hatch saw Jake top the timesheets in the first practice session of the weekend, before finishing fourth in the second and final session. 

A wet qualifying session on Saturday saw Jake top the times during the initial 30-minute qualifying session, which therefore saw him progress to the ‘Top Ten Showdown’ where he battled with team-mate Colin Turkington for Pole, being edged out by 0.006 seconds, and then a last-lap flyer from Cammish saw the BMW pair edged to 2nd & 3rd on the grid.

Piloting his #24 WSR-run BMW 330e M Sport, Jake got a strong start off the line but with his front tyres not at their optimum temperature compared to his FWD rivals, Jake lost out on third position to Sutton and crossed the line at the end of lap one in 4th place. 

However, drama ensued behind the front runners as a number of cars were caught up in an accident, bringing out the red flag and pausing the race as barriers were fixed and cars recovered. 

As the red flag had been brought out on the opening lap, the order was reset to the starting grid and Jake once again lined up from third place. 

Starting race one for the second time, Jake again got a fantastic launch and followed his WSR-stablemate Colin Turkington past the pole sitter, Cammish, and into second place. 

Managing his tyre temperatures and battling to keep the Fords behind, Jake was eventually passed and fell back to 4th position – from where he took the chequered flag. 

With race one results setting the grid for race two, Jake lined up on the second row in 4th place and got another monster start off the line – breezing past Cammish into third place but was then passed into the Druids hairpin by Ingram, demoting Jake back down to 4th place. 

With Cammish also passing Jake, the Kent-based driver was now running in 5th place but, with his tyres now up to temperature, he began his comeback. Setting quick lap times, Jake was alll over the tail of Cammish and launched a fantastic move into Druids to retake 4th position. 

On a charge towards the podium, Jake’s search for silverware ran out of laps and he took the flag from 4th position to record a brace of 4th place finishes. 

The third and final race of the day saw Jake handed an 8th-place starting position in the reverse grid draw and once again got a sensational start off the line – passing two cars in the opening corners. 

Displaying fantastic pace on the soft compound tyre, he passed Osborne, then in a dramatic last of the late brakers move, dived past Cook at Paddock bend, repeating the move on Gamble a lap later, and then sneaking inside Butcher’s Toyota on the exit of Paddock Bend.

Now 4th on the road but with Collard getting a 10-second penalty for exceeding track limits, was actually 3rd and closing rapidly on Thompson, a 2nd place finish looked highly likely.

With a handful of laps remaining, Jake’s race took a cruel twist as he picked up a puncture through the high-speed Paddock Hill Bend. Keeping it out of the gravel and avoiding any more damage, Jake tip-toed his BMW around the circuit for a new tyre and rejoined to take the finishing line in 22nd place. 

Failing to score points in the final race, Jake and the team rounded out a weekend of mixed emotions but remain firmly in the fight heading to Snetterton for round three (20 – 21 May). Jake heads to the Norfolk circuit 5th in the Drivers’ Championship with 58 points. 

Speaking after the weekend, Hill said: “Coming away from Brands feeling gutted to be honest! The car was decent all day with two P4’s in the first two races and we manage to save the soft tyre for race three. 

The car was simply mighty at the midpoint in the race and the fight was on to try and get onto the podium… however that chance was taken away from me with a blowout at the bottom of paddock hill bend.

We move on and aim to come back fighting at Snetterton which we are feeling strongly about! Huge thank you to everyone at Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport and WSR for their efforts this weekend!” 

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