"Every emotion possible in one day" is how BRDC Member Jake Hill described a dramatic day, racing Ric Wood Motorsport's sleek Ford Capri in the Gordon Spice Trophy at the 80th Goodwood Members Meeting, ultimately taking Pole Position and a breathtaking victory by just 0.15 seconds in Saturday's race.
Racing the elegantly liveried Gitanes Capri for the third successive Members Meeting, Hill aimed to emulate his popular debut victory from 2021, sliding spectacularly to Pole Position on Saturday morning, before oil dropped saw the French Blue machine skate off the circuit at St. Mary's corner, and thump the tyre wall hard.
"The car was so strong straight away, plus the team got me out at the head of the pack in clear air, so I immediately got down to a quick time to take Pole. There was a Red Flag for an incident and at the re-start I was ahead again and then just couldn't stop at St. Mary's. I was absolutely distraught as I thought it was just my own mistake, and the damage looked awful so I was incredibly upset to have 'hurt' the car"
Once the car was returned to the pits, Ric Wood and his crew set about working on the badly damaged car, replacing the steering rack and front suspension, and using brute force to bend and bang the chassis and bodywork back in place, before carefully checking and setting up the by-now very tatty looking machine.
Incredibly the team got the car ready for the 20 minute heat, the 3.0 V6 Capri lining up ahead of the mighty 5.0 V8 Chevrolet Camaros of Dutch ace Olivier Hart, and former World Touring Car Champion Rob Huff, and at the start Hill judged the start perfectly, immediately leading Hart and Huff by just over 1.3 seconds at the end of lap one.
Hart used the might of the Camaro to begin to pressure Hill, the leaders matching each others pace and the gap closing to just 0.5 seconds, with the Dutchman drawing ahead at the end of the back straight, before Hill used the Capri's braking advantage to retain the lead on several occasions.
Meanwhile Huff began closing, edging the Bastos-liveried Camaro into second place with just three laps remaining, and quickly pressuring Hill's leading Capri.
The pair ran nose to tail, and squeezing past back markers came out of the final corner on the final lap with Huff charging hard, however a brilliantly judged race saw 29 year-old Hill hang on to take a superb win.
"Pole Position, a huge shunt, utter heartbreak, a fantastic effort to get the car repaired, and a frantic race throughout! Exhausting but exhilarating - that was incredible! A mega scrap with first Olivier and then 'Huffy' - I am so, so happy to have Won for this team; Ric, Graham, Mark, Olly and Jenny worked their socks off and refused to give up, so I had to match that on track. Fantastic racing!"
Hill also joined his good friend Ollie Streek to share his Lotus Cortina in the all-star Jim Clark Trophy, joining F1, Le Mans, Indycar and BTCC legends in a fiercely competitive race, ultimately taking a hard-fought P8 in a grid of almost 30 of Dagenham's finest machines.
"What an honour to race in this event, and even better to share with my mate Ollie. I ended up fighting with 9 times Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen, Darren Turner and Rob Huff - just brilliant stuff and a great way to honour the legend of Jim Clark"
The final race of the hugely popular Members Meeting was the 20 minute final of the Gordon Spice Trophy, in memory of the 6 times British Saloon Car Champion, with Hill lining up on the front row of the grid, alongside the winner's of the 2.0 and under class Nick Swift and Jim Morris in their BL Mini 1275GT and VW Golf GTi respectively.
Hill again blasted into the lead, with Huff into second almost immediately, however it was clear something was awry with the 123 machine as plumes of white smoke poured from under the car.
After two laps, the inevitable happened and the officials called Hill into the pits to resolve the issue - which turned out to be that the oil dipstick plug had come loose - with Hill blasting back into action now dead last and half a lap behind the pack.
Determined to make progress, Hill caught and passed several of the smaller cars, now up from 29th to 21st place, and edging up the pack, before an incident stopped the race with just 5 minutes remaining.
The race restarted with Huff, Tetley, Shepherd and Bryant in their V8 machines at the front, and Hill with five minutes and maybe four laps to try and make his way as far up the order as possible.
An incredible first lap saw Hill cross the line in P8, making up 13 places and charging up to Scarborough's Capri to take P7, then past Swift's mighty Mini and onto Whittacker's tail.
Passing Whittacker and now up to P5 as they started the final lap, the battle for the lead between Huff and Tetley ended with Tetley spectacularly rolling at the final corner, and Hill crossing the line a truly remarkable P4...from P21 in just three laps!
However the Tetley incident brought out the Red Flag just before the leaders crossed the line, which saw the results taken back a lap, and Huff deservingly declared the winner, with Hill now shown as P5.
"So frustrating to have the issue early on - I am certain we had enough pace to fight for the win again. But we got going again, the Red Flag massively helped and I refused to give up - but to get classified P5 is amazing, and again the biggest thanks to Ric and the crew for giving me a superb car, and for having me on board again. I absolutely love this car and this event, and have loved racing the Cortina with Ollie too. Just brilliant!"
Hill now focuses on the opening weekend of the 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park, aiming to emulate his Pole Position and Victory from the opening race in 2022.
"Same car, same crew as last year - testing has gone really well, and I learned an awful lot last year. I'm ready to be in the mix from day one, so cannot wait to get out there in my Laser Tools MB Motorsport BMW 330e M-Sport on a track I really love"
Image courtesy of Matt Wood at MAW Imagery