In front of over 35,000 enthusiastic spectators at Snetterton in Norfolk on Sunday 31st July 2016, the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship charged back into action with some thrilling racing and heart-stopping accidents which thankfully everyone emerged from shaken but unharmed.
GTROC Trackday Instructor & BRDC Rising Star – Jake Hill – keen to build on his superb top-six finish at Croft last-time out, once again demonstrated pace and race-craft, taking points in all three races for the first time this year.
Qualifying 17th – one of five drivers within 0.1 of a second – Hill immediately began making progress in race one, passing Simpson & Collard (who had passed Hill at the start) & then working hard to close and challenge Jack Goff’s BMW. Benefiting from Abbott and Moffat losing time & later electrical issues from Aron Smith, Hill worked his way up to 12th place overall. Jake said :
“The car was really good but when I was challenging Goff my brakes and engine were getting so hot I had to back off a little after which the best of my tyres had gone. I was under pressure from Austin late on so was pleased to have moved forward yet again in race one”.
Starting 12th & now on the soft ‘option’ tyre, Hill immediately benefited from James Cole’s retirement on the warm-up lap. However the race to be stopped after a multi-car pile-up involving Ollie Jackson, Ashley Sutton, Hunter Abbott, Alex Martin, Kelvin Fletcher & Dan Welch whose Proton Persona was totally destroyed & Welch incredibly fortunate to walk away unharmed.
After a lengthy delay the race distance was reduced from 12 to 10 laps of the 2.96 mile circuit. Hill immediately was battling with several drivers including Andrew Jordan, Warren Scott & Josh Cook – pulling off a sensational pass of Scott then Cook & holding them plus Andrew Jordan & Jeff Smith at bay over the closing laps despite the soft compound tyres badly losing performance.
“The tyres were fantastic early on and I was lapping quickly, but they dropped away so suddenly it made the last few laps really tough. I had a great battle with Scott, Jordan, Moffat, and Cook so was really pleased with my race – another great job by my RCIB Insurance Racing team”.
After the drama and delays at the start of race two, no-one was prepared for what unfolded on the start-line at the beginning of the day’s final race. Midfield contact between Martin & Howard saw Hunter Abbott launched into a spectacular series of rolls, being collected by Ollie Jackson & then worryingly landing on top of the barrier knocking over a camera scaffold. Incredibly the cameraman was unharmed despite falling from the scaffold as it fell over after Abbott collected it.
“The race was stopped immediately and we all stopped on the start line and waited for things to be sorted. The main thing of course is that everyone was ok, especially the cameraman, then it just was a long wait for everything to be cleared up before we could go again”, said Hill.
As the cars came around to the start, championship leader Sam Tordoff sensationally retired from Pole Position & on lap one the inevitable scrapping for position saw Hill moved ahead of Ingram but was barged wide allowing Cook and Jordan to edge past. Hill then fought up onto the tail of former champion Matt Neal, almost passing the Halfords Honda several times.
Later on Mat Jackson’s retirement moved Hill into 11th but under intense pressure from a recovering Tom Ingram who pushed Hill sideways at Wilson Hairpin, Hill then driving calmly and quickly to keep his long term rival & race winner Ingram’s newer-spec Avensis behind.
Hill was also pleased for team-mate Michael Epps who won his first Jack Sears Trophy for rookie drivers, and to welcome Michael Caine to the team for the balance of the season.
Jake said, “to finally take decent points in a all three races – & with it come away with virtually no damage to the car – is testament to the job the team have done. I think it hurt us being the only driver not to attend the recent two-day test, but I’ve had some real battles & am proud to have fought & passed several manufacturer drivers.
We took a 4th, 5th and 6th in the Independent championship and I have moved up to 8th position in those standings which is superb as well.
As always Jake gave a big thanks to RCIB Insurance & his fantastic supporters Brisky Racing, Sportif Motor Group, BAK Cladding, AWS Supply Services, online-media, The Ultimate Car Co, Thunder Toffee Vodka, Zynth, BTS Consultants, Omologato, Fujifilm, Borderland Fencing, the GTROC & lots of other great people who would rather not be mentioned.
Jake said, “Knockhill is only a couple of weeks away so now the focus is raising the funds for that race to keep building on our success so far”, smiled Hill.
The next round of BTCC is at Knockhill is 13th/14th August & as always will be shown on ITV4.