Published: 05:00, 31 May 2022
Jake Hill played his part in two close finishes as the British Touring Car Championship season resumed at Thruxton at the weekend.
The Platt's Heath driver qualified on the front row and was less than a second behind winner Josh Cook (Honda) in the first and second of three races, before contact with Tom Ingram in race three - won by BMW's Adam Morgan - saw the MB Motorsport BMW 330e M Sport runner finish 21st.
“Overall we had a really positive weekend at Thruxton,” Hill said. “It’s a track that doesn’t typically suit us rear-wheel drive runners but the BMWs were strong.
"The front row in qualifying followed by two more podiums is a great haul of points and I thoroughly enjoyed the battles with Josh throughout the day.
"The final race didn’t fall our way and that was unfortunate but we still scored well and can head to Oulton Park feeling confident.”
Hill was on the front row of the grid for the third weekend in succession and a sublime launch off the start line allowed him to surge alongside and briefly ahead of polesitter Cook heading into the first chicane before the Honda reclaimed the position.
Settling into the race, Hill continued to build heat into his tyres and set about overturning the gap the front-wheel drive Honda had developed. Before long he was harassing Cook for the lead, maintaining a three-tenths gap, while vying for a way through in a thrilling cat and mouse chase - eventually settling for second place by 0.900sec.
A solid launch in race two, coupled with a poor getaway for Cook, meant Hill led off the start line and into the opening lap. But with the benefit of higher front tyre temperatures, Cook scythed back past into Club chicane - with the pair now running line astern for the second race in a row this time separated by 0.487.
Lining up sixth for the final race courtesy of the reverse-grid draw, Hill initially held firm in the middle of the top 10, running eighth in the early stages. However contact with Ingram caused significant damage to the bodywork of Hill's car and he was forced into the pits where the team quickly removed the affected parts and sent him back out to claim for 21st place.
The results leave him fifth in the standings but in front in the battle for the Goodyear Wingfoot award for the season’s fastest qualifier.
Wrotham-based team Motorbase enjoyed three successive third places for defending champion Ash Sutton, but team-mate Dan Cammish was 25th, 18th and 20th after he was barged off the track in race one with more contact in race three.
Motorbase's Sam Osborne raced to his first outright championship point of the season for Apec Racing, claiming 15th in race three after finishes of 19th and 23rd. His Apec team-mate Ollie Jackson retired from race one, wasn't classified after entering race two with a few laps remaining and was 18th in race three.
Broadstairs’ Michael Crees, meanwhile, recorded his best-ever BTCC result.
After the CarStore Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra driver finished races one and two in 12th and 13th - worth two top-five Independents Trophy finishes - he battled to ninth in race three which became eighth when Gorden Shedden crashed on the penultimate lap - good enough for a first Independents Trophy podium of the campaign.
An elated Crees said: “Race one was good and race two was pretty strong as well, we moved forward in both, and then the last one was fantastic!
“I was determined I wasn’t going to waste the opportunity in the last race, the car was good and I was able to push and really get stuck in.
“I’m over the moon to take my first independents podium of the year, and my best-ever overall result in the BTCC with eighth."
The next round of the championship is at Oulton Park on June 11-12.