Frustrating start at Donnington Park.
HILL FRUSTRATED AT DONINGTON PARK BTCC OPENER
BRDC ‘Superstar’ Jake Hill had a ‘very frustrating’ day at the opening Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park, where a promising qualifying performance did not translate into success on race day after a raft of technical issues.
Practice and Qualifying suggested that the 26 year-old MB Motorsport driver was in with a chance of a strong result in race one – P8 & P12 in practice despite some niggling issues and a committed lap saw Hill qualify P7….with a potential P4 on the cards were it not for a Red Flag whilst Hill was on his best lap.
“Very odd how the car changed so much from practice to qualifying! Understeer to huge oversteer in just a few hours…but very pleased to be in the mix – P3 in Independents too – so let’s see what we can do.
The opening round of the 2020 season saw Hill immediately battling hard, ultimately with Matt Neal’s Honda Civic Type-R FK8, the pair swapping places but catching the lead battle ahead. Hill was able to move to P6 after Sutton spun, but a lap later was into the pits and into retirement.
“Some kind of engine-related issue unfortunately” said Hill. “It felt like it was under parr from the beginning, then it just slowed and stopped. A huge shame”
The MB Motorsport crew worked frantically to replace Hill’s engine in time for race two, and a truly remarkable effort from Ben, Rob T, Rob O, Dan, and Craig saw Hill’s #24 machine just make it to the pitlane in time for the start of race two.
A strong start and some very impressive overtaking saw the MB Motorsport machine work its way up to P14 from a P26 start, with more progress able to be made. Incredibly though Hill trundled into the pits once again with a repeat of his race one woes.
“Wow. Two engine-related issues in two races. Pretty much unheard of but just my luck it has happened to me! I cannot believe my guys have to do another engine change. So grateful for the job they have done for me. I just hope I can repay them with a strong result in race three.
A strong start saw Hill make up a couple of places before a Safety Car neutralised the race, and on restarting Hill dived into the pits, a problem with the gear linkage halting his progress . Charging back into the race, a lap later Hill was back again,this time with a puncture.
His pace was now remarkable – setting the second fastest lap of anyone – and showing the strength of the MB Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R – and this time the engine ran faultlessly, giving Hill some confidence going into round two at Brands Hatch just a week away.
“Brands Hatch GP is my favourite circuit. The car is quick there and I go there with no success ballast and a point to prove. My amazing partners know I can deliver – and I am so very sure we can. A tough one this weekend but we still still have 24 races and lots of points to take!.
Watch out on ITV.COM/BTCC for qualifying on Saturday 8th August with all three races on ITV4 on Sunday 9th August to see how Jake gets on at ‘home’
Press release – Simon Hill.
Photography – Jakob Ebrey Photography.