PODIUM AND PACE FOR HILL AT BRANDS HATCH BTCC OPENER
Hill qualified 15th in the wet session on Saturday, and a greasy track shrouded in fog meant a dilemma for the teams in terms of tyre choice for Sunday morning’s opening race – whether to go for ‘wet’ or ‘slick’ Dunlop tyres.
Opting to stick with the ‘soft’ compound slick tyres, Hill’s AmD Tuning-prepared Audi S3 dropped down to 21st as the cars on wet weather tyres initially had significantly more grip.
However after just three laps, Hill’s choice proved to be the correct one, and he began slicing through the pack, passing Ingram to get into the top-ten on lap 8, then charging past Neal, Oliphant, Turkington and Jackson to now be in the top-three.
On lap 11 Hill edged past 2017 Champion Sutton into P2, and held that position despite the rain falling late on to take a well-earned debut Podium for Trade Price Cars Racing’s in their first-ever race together.
“What an amazing race! I felt confident we had made the correct choice, the car was fantastic. I took my time and although I couldn’t challenge Josh (Cook) for the win, this is a fantastic feeling. Thanks so much to Dan, Andy, Shaun, Kingsley, Rob, and everyone else in the team, plus of course our awesome partners including Oodle, Aston Lark, Lost Boys Motor Club, Ecoflam, Danfoss, ABGO, Smarttrams, and everyone else that has made this possible. I’m so proud to be part of this team’ smiled Hill.
Starting on the front row of the grid in P2 for the first time ever, Hill initially lost a place to Chilton, and was then holding P3 until Sutton – on the faster Soft tyres – came past on lap 4.
In a fierce battle with Chilton, Morgan, Jelley and Cook, Hill was soon passed Chilton but was himself passed by Jordan’s BMW 3 Series, on lap 9, and who ultimately went on to take victory.
However the last few laps provided typical frantic BTCC action, with Sutton and Cook’s ‘soft’ tyres losing performance, Hill passed Cook on lap 19, then battled hard with Morgan, Sutton, Jelley and Ingram, ultimately finishing 4th by just 0.110 seconds!
“The car was great again. We had 48kgs of success ballast on for the first time but we stayed in the fight right to the end. It’s a shame to miss out on another podium but I’m delighted to get solid points, and we’re now leading the Independant’s Category.
For the final race of the day, Hill started 8th after the reverse-grid draw saw Matt Neal awarded Pole Position.
Hill ended the opening lap up to 7th as Proctor spun out, then was battling with Butcher, Morgan, Ingram and Sutton for the next eight laps, when he was edged wide at Paddock, running around the outside of Sutton at Druids. The resulting contact saw Sutton spin, and Hill get hit hard by Turkington as he checked up, causing a puncture and forcing retirement for 25 year-old Hill.
“Such a shame as the car was great again. Big thanks to Stuart, Dave, Kingsley, Ian and ‘Biscuit’ who are my awesome crew, plus everyone else at AmD and Trade Price Cars for giving me such a great car all weekend.’
“So many positives to take, and we have shown we can mix it with anyone this season. Great job by Mark (Blundell) to take points in race one, really impressed by how he’s adapting to BTCC, and so pleased to see Rory (Butcher) take victory for AmD, both he and the team really deserve it. Thanks again to everyone. Next is Donington where we tested in February and a track I love. Can’t wait to continue this adventure.’