BTCC Brands Hatch (Indy Circuit) — May 6-7
With the current changeable weather and the wet/dry, wet/dry conditions at Donington two weeks ago causing all the BTCC teams problems, there were high hopes for a more consistent (weather-wise) weekend at Brands Hatch. Not to be!
Saturday's weather was dry(ish) for the first free-practice session, and dismal and wet the second, but later it in the afternoon for the all-important qualifying session — it was worse!
In the first practice session Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport driver Jake Hill did well to lead the pack with a stunning best lap time of 48.7 sec .
Consistency was the name of the game in the second practice session, which saw Jake finish as the fourth-quickest driver on the grid (54 sec best lap), as the team prepared for the upcoming qualifying test, gaining valuable wet running data ahead of what looked to be a wet qualifying session.
And wet it was! In the afternoon, our driver then piloted his #24 BMW 330e M Sport to set the quickest lap time in the initial qualifying session, before a dramatic 'Top-10 Showdown' saw pole position up for grabs. Ultimately, Jake claimed the P3 starting position, 0.277 seconds behind the pole-sitter.
Weather-wise, all change on Sunday! Warm and sunny with raised track temperatures that meant the tyres would warm up more quickly and "come on" after just a couple of laps — very important for our rear-wheel-drive car. Jake started Race 1 on P3 and got a strong start off the line but with his front tyres not at their optimum temperature compared to his FWD rivals, he lost out on third position to Sutton and crossed the line at the end of lap one in 4th place.
However, drama ensued behind the front runners as a number of cars were caught up in an accident, bringing out the red flag and pausing the race as barriers were fixed and cars recovered. As the red flag had been brought out on the opening lap, the order was reset to the starting grid and Jake once again lined up from third place.
Starting Race 1 for the second time, Jake again got a fantastic launch and followed his WSR-stablemate Colin Turkington past pole sitter Cammish and into second place. Managing his tyre temperatures and battling to keep the Fords behind, Jake was eventually passed and fell back to 4th position, from where he took the chequered flag.
As Race 1 results set the grid for Race 2, Jake lined up on the second row in 4th place and got another monster start off the line — shooting past Cammish into third place but was then passed into the Druids hairpin by Ingram, demoting Jake back down to 4th place. On a charge towards the podium, Jake's chance for a podium ran out of laps and he took the flag from 4th position to record a brace of 4th place finished.
For Race 3, with the reverse-grid system, Jake started on P8. Now on the "soft" tyre, this option having to be used on one of the three races, he was soon picking his way through the pack and was firmly on his way to another podium when, disaster! A puncture that resulted in a sudden and dramatic loss of control that led to a massive spin. After limping back to the pits for a new tyre, Jake rejoined the race and finished on P22.
After the race Jake commented: “To have a puncture in the final race is a disappointing end to a very strong weekend for us. I think I’d have been on the podium, and possibly had a shot at the win. I was catching Bobby [Thompson] quickly and obviously the two leaders were fighting hard, so I was pretty certain I would have been among it. It’s a real shame, because up until then we’d had two strong fourths.
“We move on and aim to come back fighting at Snetterton which we are feeling strongly about! Huge thank you to everyone at Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport and WSR for their efforts this weekend!”
The Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport driver leaves his home circuit fifth in the championship standings, and now looks forward to the next rounds at Snetterton in Norfolk in two weeks' time.