BTCC Brands Hatch GP - October 7-8
On a delightfully sunny October day at Brands Hatch, the BTCC race enthusiasts were treated to an unexpected burst of summer. The scorching weather was a welcomed sight for the drivers, as it ensured the track remained warm, preserving the grip on their tyres.
Jake Hill of Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport showed incredible determination in the three Sunday races at the Kent circuit. His P8 finish in the closely-fought qualifying session on Saturday placed him in the same position on the grid for Race 1 on Sunday morning. However, this race belonged to Ashley Sutton, who clinched his fourth BTCC Drivers’ Championship title from pole position, leading from start to finish. Jake made a brilliant start and steadily advanced to sixth place, leaving rivals Turkington and Cammish behind. Pressuring Rowbottom mid-race he charged alongside the Ford Focus, only to be edged out and passed by both Turkington and Cammish, but a late race error by Rowbottom saw him back past at Paddock Bend and finishing a solid P6.
Jake continued his strong performance in his Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport BMW 330e M Sport. Once again, he started well and aimed to challenge his competitors. Jake managed to avoid any trouble and crossed the finish line in sixth place, accumulating more valuable points.
The final race of the weekend saw the reverse grid draw and Jake was drawn in P4 for what was also the final race of the season. Jake's blistering start saw him swiftly pass Rowbottom and Cook, charging into second place and closely pursuing his WSR teammate, Stephen Jelley, who was in the lead. However, a safety car was deployed due to an incident, and it seemed that Cook overtook Jake while under safety-car conditions (a big no-no). Nevertheless, at the restart, it was Jelley, Cook, and Hill at the front, engaging in a thrilling exchange of overtakes. On lap six, Jake executed a brilliantly timed move, cutting back to the inside and taking the lead as they braked for Sheene Curve. In a move described by ITV’s Tim Harvey as 'One of the moves of the season,' Jake showcased his courage and decisiveness. He then steadily built a commanding lead until another safety car period. At the restart, Jake pulled away from Cook, setting the fastest lap in the process, ultimately crossing the finish line 1.278 seconds ahead and securing his sixth BTCC victory of 2023.
This victory was particularly special for Jake as it marked his first BTCC win at Brands Hatch and his 12th career win. With six wins in 2023, double his 2022 tally, along with six podium finishes and five fastest laps, it was a career-best season in terms of results, earning him a hard-fought 3rd place overall in the Championship. A remarkable achievement!
Jake commented on his victory, saying, “What a way to finish the season with win number six! The car felt great all weekend, and we battled hard in races one and two to put ourselves at the sharp end for the final race of the day. That overtake will definitely be one I will remember for a long time; I’ve done that move many a time — not on two people, mind you. They were fighting, Stephen was super-racy, and I saw an opportunity and went for the move. Josh pushed me towards the grass — I might have taken a bit more of it than I needed to, but I didn’t want to hit him. To finally get that home-race win is unforgettable.
“This season has been brilliant for myself and the team, with it being my most successful year to date. It is one to build upon for 2024.
A massive thank you to all my team at Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport and the guys and girls at West Surrey Racing for their hard work and support all season long. Without them and my brilliant partners, this all would not have been possible.”