all arai helmets are hand made and receive a free yearly service courtesy of arai:more info here

Hill strong in Snetterton BTCC qualifying

Hill strong in Snetterton BTCC qualifying

Rollover to zoom

Click main image to enlarge

After a challenging start to the day, TAG Racing’s BTCC star Jake Hill pulled out a superb last-gasp lap to qualify his Team HARD-run VW Passat CC 11th overall, and 5th fastest of the Independent drivers at Snetterton.

In the opening practice session early on Saturday morning, Hill set a solid lap time early on, but was forced to pit after only a handful of laps when the car developed a serious oil leak from the gearbox.

This required Hill’s TAG Racing crew to take not only the gearbox, but the engine out of the car, and a hectic race was on to complete the work prior to the second all-important practice session just two hours later.

“My boys are outstanding. Kingsley, Ian, Gav, Alex and Brad worked quickly and calmly and turned things around amazingly fast! We lost a fair bit of time on track, but at least we knew the car was running properly prior to qualifying” said Hill.

Ultimately Hill only managed 3 flying laps on old tyres in practice two, so was pleased with the car in the circumstances.

Qualifying meant something of a leap into the unknown, with Hill running on new Dunlop slicks for the first time over the day. His first run was compromised by traffic, whilst his second was caught on and saw him fast through the first two sectors, but completely sideways through the fast Coram Curve at the end of the lap!

Hence Hill’s final run, with just three minutes remaining was crucial. Hill’s Team HARD team-mate Michael Epps had just put his car in the top ten with a 1.57.061 lap and Hill was pushing to try and get HIS car up there, and in a committed lap managed a 1.57.051 lap to go P9, the pair being pipped by double-champion Jason Plato’s Subaru on the last lap.

Ending the session P10 and P11 - with stablemate Will Burns unlucky with a gearbox issue preventing his qualifying run - Hill and Epps were to learn sometime later that former champion Matt Neal had been re-instated into 4th place after earlier having his lap time disallowed for failing the minimum ride-height test in the pitlane after setting his best lap.

All BTCC cars must conform to a minimum height and weight, and if they fail either in qualifying all times set thus far are disallowed. Neal’s car failed - but his Team Dynamics squad successfully argued that the testing procedure was not done by an official scrutineer, so was invalid.

“Bit frustrating to have been bumped out of the top-ten - that would have been my fourth top-ten qualifying result in six races, but P11 is still really good, especially after the morning we had with so little running! Big thanks to my engineer Dan, my crew Kingsley, Ian, Gav, Alex and Brad and the whole TAG Racing team. Looking forward to giving our guests from TAG, Rolec, Brisky Racing, Danfoss and Ecoflam something to cheer about here tomorrow, and as always grateful to them and all of my other partners Sportif, AWS Supply Services, Bill Rawles Classic Cars - let’s see what we can do!"


Report courtesy of Simon Hill

Photography by Jakob Ebrey Photography