Kicking off the second half of the 2023 BTCC season, Jake Hill and Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport returned to action at Croft as he secured a trio of points finishes in the sixth round of the campaign to depart the circuit occupying 4th in the Drivers' Championship. Commencing the weekend with two free practices, Jake in his WSR-run BMW 330e M Sport got up to speed on the 2.13-mile circuit and ended the sessions with a brace of fourth place finishes. Final preparations were made before the team returned to track for the weekend's qualifying session. In a red flag disrupted session, the 2022 Goodyear Wingfoot Award winner maintained his strong qualifying form by securing a sixth-place starting position for the first race of the weekend at Croft. Sunday's race day saw Jake line the grid from the third row for the opening race. A strong start and committed opening couple of corners saw Jake challenging his WSR stablemate Colin Turkington on the run down to Tower Bend, and a perfectly timed cut-back saw the pair of BMW 330e M-Sport machines dancing through the fearsome Jim Clark esses, Hill holding his ground and edging up to 5th place. Displaying good pace and applying continuous pressure to Josh Cook in fourth place, Jake was unable to find a way past and came across the finishing line to take fifth place and score more valuable championship points. Starting from fifth place in race two, Jake again got a fantastic start off the line and challenged Cook heading into turn one, with the pair running side-by-side through the opening corners. However, Jake was forced to cut the chicane to avoid an incident and this meant he fell back behind Ingram and into sixth place. Pushing on, Jake was battling hard with Cook for fifth place once again and at the start of the tenth lap he ran wide at turn one, stepping onto the gravel at high speed and sending himself into a spin. Dropping down to the order to 11th place, Jake remained there until the finish and took the chequered flag for another points finish. Starting from 11th place for the final race of the weekend, Jake showcased a determined fightback as he battled his way up the order to sixth place. Battling hard with Rowbottom’s NAPA Ford for several laps, Hill closed up at the ultra-fast Barcroft Bend, and lost grip, understeering wide and into a spin, dropping to 8th place behind Moffat and Butcher. However a lightening fast recovery and determined final lap saw him catch and pass Butcher’s Toyota into Tower Bend, to cross the line in 7th place, and secure his 15th top-ten finish of the season so far. Leaving Croft, Jake now sits 4th in the Drivers' Championship with 217 points and trailing championship leader Sutton by 41 points with four rounds and 12 races left to contest. Next up for Jake is the annual trip to Scotland for the seventh round of the 2023 campaign at Knockhill in two weeks' time (12 - 13 August).
- Jake Hill #24 Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport
“Ultimately, our trip to Croft was a frustrating one and we weren't able to score the results we know we are capable of achieving as a team. The red-flagged qualifying meant we weren't able to deliver a lap time when the track was at its quickest and this left us with work to do on Sunday.
Unfortunately, two mistakes on my end in the races cost us and I'm sorry to the team for those errors. At the end of the day, we want to be battling at the front like we were at Oulton Park and this weekend we just didn't have the straight line pace to compete for wins and the podium places.
Heading to Knockhill next time out fills me with motivation to bounce back and get to where I know we can be. Last year, it was our best weekend and I'm confident we can return to the front when we head to Scotland in two weeks.
As always, a huge thank you to the guys and girls at Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport and WSR for their efforts this weekend."
Imagery courtesy of Jakob Ebrey Photography