A proud weekend occurred for the 19 year-old Jake HILL – British Racing Driver’s Club Rising Star – at the final round of this years Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championships at Brands Hatch on Kent.
HILL who is also the GTROC’s Trackday Instructor, had his début in the Exocet Racing Audi A4 run by race winning team Rob AUSTIN for his second outing of 2013 in this racing series.
Earlier this year HILL had raced to victory in the Jack Sears Trophy category of the Dunlop MSA BTCC series on his first ever touring car drive with Addison Lee Motorbase’s S2000 Ford Focus at the Croft circuit in June.
HILL had not been expected to race again in the series this year, but a call came in last week :
“The deal was only available the weekend before Brands so it has been a mighty effort from my Dad (former racer turned TV commentator Simon HILL) & John MISKIN (GTROC Motorsport Liason) from SPORTIF to get in touch with people to see if they would be interested in supporting me for Brands. In the end 26 different people have helped out so I am incredibly grateful to everyone for getting me on the grid”, smiled Jake!
After a brief ‘shakedown’ run at an airfield on the Wednesday, Jake’s first proper run in the Audi came on Saturday morning on a damp Brands GP circuit for the free practice session! Despite conditions HILL put in a stunning time to sit second overall for most of the session ending up a still impressive sixth as the circuit dried & others had chosen slick racing tyres. HILL had another good run in the second session topping the timing screens on several occasions so began the afternoons ‘official’ qualifying session confidently.
HILL was immediately on the pace running near the front & setting a time that put him sixth overall. However a mistake on the final flying run saw Jake run wide whilst on schedule to improve having set a purple sector & two greens – meaning a superb tenth on the grid – in his first run in an NGTC (New Generation Touring Car) exceeded many people’s expectations!
“I am so pleased with the time we did, even though I should have gone a bit faster! To be ahead of drivers like Dave NEWSHAM & Mat JACKSON – & 3 time champ Matt NEAL is incredible! A huge thanks to all the guys at Exocet Racing for their help”.
Sunday dawned cold & wet adding to the challenge faced in the three races. In race one HILL started solidly and was running an excellent tenth when the safety car came out. At the restart Ollie JACKSON was punted into Jake at GRAHAM HILL BEND forcing HILL’s black No. 9 Audi into a spin & down the order into 19th place.
However Jake charged back into the fray & worked his way back to a hard-fought 14th place – despite fighting with bent suspension after the contact & no windscreen wipers in the spray & pouring rain!
“That was frustrating and the car was pretty tricky after I was hit. But I passed a few cars and kept it on the road and even picked up a couple of points in the end”.
Starting 14th this time HILL got a much better start & was immediately past Dan WELCH & going forwards. Drama for WRATHALL & championship leader Andrew JORDON saw Hill work his way forward up to tenth, only for WRATHALL to sneak past late on, still seeing HILL finish in the points, this time in an excellent eleventh.
“The weather was still horrible but I managed to keep going forwards and put in some good lap times. I had a much better start that time, so got past Welch quickly. I enjoyed that a lot!”.
For the final race of the day – and of the 2013 Dunlop MSA BTCC Series – the weather remained the same ( cold, wet & raining!) & HILL started in 11th determined to put in a strong performance. However Jake was mindful of the need to not impede Andrew JORDAN’s charge from the back of the grid & not get in the way of the other Championship contenders. Another solid start saw HILL immediately in the mix with WRATHALL & MORGAN as Sam TORDOFF spun on the exit of DRUIDS HILL BEND, before five or six cars, including Matt NEAL charged into Surtees & HILL was pushed wide and down to 14th place.
As the race unfolded Andrew JORDAN – determined to make it up to the eighth place he needed to clinch his first BTCC crown – sliced past & HILL set about putting in strong lap times. Incedibly for his first time in the car & in the treacherous conditions on the demanding Grand Prix circuit of BRANDS HATCH, the Kent-based teenager was on the tail & challenging Matt NEAL lapping as quickly as the leaders setting the second quickest lap of the entire race….!
Ultimately it was a 14th place finish for Jake – just finishing all three races was the first time all season that the car had done that – & all three times in the points with remarkably little damage.
The team, sponsors and the media were quick to praise the job Jake had done.
“I was hugely impressed with Jake” said team boss & winner at Rockingham Rob AUSTIN. “He was ahead of me on the grid and did a superb job in very difficult conditions. Our sponsors Exocet, Wix & all of Jake’s supporters were really, really pleased. All the lads on his car have worked really hard & he’s repaid them with his performance on track, & his attitude off track. Really proud”.
HILL saw huge support from the GTROC over the weekend with many members attending in the wettest conditions seen for quite some time just to watch & get a few seconds of Jakes precious time to offer support & well wishes. Much of the money required for the last minute sponsorship package came together through the GTROC’s Motorsport Liason – John MISKIN. JOhn has been a friend to the HILL family for many years & is also one of Jakes supporters & mentors in his motorsport career. With John contacting selected GTROC members as well as another friend to Jake – the GTROC’s National Events Coordinator & Facebook Editor – the word was put out on social media & to other members all allowing the necessary sponsorship to be raised. For the eagle-eyed amongst you, many noticed over the weekend the large GTROC logo on the side of the black Audi … that has to be a first for a non Skyline or GTR on a race circuit!
Final word goes to Jake himself though :
“This all came together so late, so I wasn’t 100% sure I was even racing until Friday night! Thanks to everyone who made this possible, but I am very proud of the performance this weekend, I think a few people have taken notice, and hopefully it may have helped my chances for a drive in 2014”
“A very special thanks to those members of the GTROC who supported me as without their help I wouldn’t have been out this weekend – I owe you”