Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport and Jake Hill enjoyed a strong start to the opening round of the 2023 Kwikfit British Touring Car Championship season, claiming third place in a dramatic qualifying session this afternoon.
The Kent-based driver piloted his #24 WSR-run BMW 330e M Sport to set the fifth-quickest lap time in the initial thirty-minute qualifying session, before a fantastic lap in the 'Top-10 Showdown' was enough to earn the 29-year-old a third-place start in tomorrow's opening race.
A dry but blustery Donington Park welcomed the legions of fans back to the circuit as the new season, after much anticipation, finally got underway as the new-look Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport team enjoyed their first competitive action.
The opening free practice session of the weekend saw Jake finish in third place on the time sheets as the gap between the leading pack looked as close-knit as ever. An early red flag shortened the session somewhat, but Jake managed to record some strong times and gather plenty of valuable data in the process.
Consistency was the name of the game in the final practice session, which saw Jake once again finish third quickest driver on the grid as the team prepared for the upcoming qualifying test. The stage was set for a typically dramatic BTCC qualifying spectacle, with an initial thirty-minute session followed by the 'Top-10 Showdown'.
A hard-fought session between the top-ten drivers ensued as they battled for a spot in the following shootout. With plenty of chopping and changing between others, Jake's early running gave him some comfort as he earned a fifth-place finish and an opportunity to fight for pole position.
In typical style, Jake came into his own in the shootout session that would follow. Initially, the Laser Tools racing man topped the timesheets but the margins were fine. With just a couple of minutes remaining, Jake had slipped to fourth in the standings before a memorable final lap, despite his grip fading, being enough to secure P3 on the grid and place him as BMW's fastest qualifier.
“Donington’s always held a special place in my heart and I’ve usually gone well here. Last year I had pole, a third and a win and qualifying’s gone well again today. Some of the other cars look very fast, but it’s nice to lead the way for BMW. I’ve been third in all the sessions so it’s been a strong one for us. Hopefully tomorrow is even stronger.”