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Hill steers his way to podium finishes

JAKE Hill powered his way to two podium finishes in the latest round of the KwikFit British Touring Car Championship at Snetterton, in Norfolk.

The Southam-based Laser Tools Racing BMW was fourth and third fastest respectively in the two free practice sessions and although the sole qualifying session was interrupted by two red flags, Hill still managed to start the weekend’s opening race fourth on the grid.

A thrilling opening race saw Hill opt for the soft compound tyres and he used them to his advantage, making a brilliant start to fly past Tom Ingram into turn one.

A neat move took him past Colin Turkington and into second but although he was able to close the gap on leader Ash Sutton's Ford Focus, he ran out of time and had to settle for second, 0.270 seconds adrift.

It was a similar tale in the next race with Sutton again putting in a dominant display, leading from start to finish. Behind the leader, Hill and Turkington resumed their battle with the pair finishing in that order.

The final race of the meeting was one to forget for the Laser Tools Racing ace with the BTCC reverse-grid system meaning he started from fifth with Sutton directly behind him and with the majority of the front runners having to run on hard compound tyres – all three sets having to be used.

That did not bode well for the rear-wheel-drive cars and it allowed Dan Rowbottom to carve his way through the field and into the lead by the second lap only to then lose out to Ingram who had started in seventh.

Hill was never in contention and finished tenth but still bagged a useful 40 points over the three races to maintain his fifth place in the drivers’ championship heading into round four at Thruxton.

The Bidford-based Carstore Power Maxed squad was looking to bounce back following a disappointing weekend at Brands Hatch and it was Irishman Aron Taylor-Smith who led their charge.

He finished tenth in the opener, just shy of an independent race victory, with Mikey Doble and Andrew Watson coming home 17th and 18th.

In race two, Taylor-Smith again proved to be the star, defending like a lion on slower, medium compound tyres to bank more points in 12th while the team’s other two drivers were 18th and 19th with Watson ahead this time.

The final race saw the Carstore-backed squad run out of luck. With all three running on the hard tyre, Taylor-Smith’s Vauxhall Astra was hit from behind and put into a spin before hitting the barrier and he was forced out of the action.

Doble and Watson battled on in a closely packed midfield, with the former ending the weekend amongst the points in 15th with Watson two places behind.

As a result of the weekend, the team is third in the independent team standings with Doble and Watson now fourth and fifth in the Jack Sears Trophy stakes.

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