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Jake Hill ‘could have been higher than tenth’

Jake Hill believes that he could have qualified higher than tenth position, after the Rob Austin Racing driver impressed on his first outing in NGTC machinery in the British Touring Car Championship.

Hill, 19, made his début in the BTCC at Croft in June, when he stood in for Liam Griffin in his S2000-spec Ford Focus. His first taste of NGTC machinery came in first practice at Brands Hatch on Saturday, and the youngster immediately impressed by setting top ten lap times in a damp first practice session.

Hill continued to find strong form in second practice and qualifying, regularly putting in top ten times in the Audi A4 formerly raced by Will Bratt and entered under the Exocet Racing banner this weekend.

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He went on to qualify in tenth for his second BTCC meeting, although Hill believes that he had more in him.

“I am happy and, I’m probably being too hard on myself, but it could have been more than tenth – a lot more,” said Hill to TouringCars.Net “I completely messed up on my second new tyre run. I locked the right-front wheel and completely ruined that tyre.

“I came in to the pits and the annoying thing was that I went back out and went three tenths quicker in sector one, matched sector two, and then I went off at Sheene in sector three. So it could have been more. It’s a bit annoying, but nevertheless it’s a good result.”

Hill is aiming for a trio of top ten results on Sunday, and is planning to use his Audi’s rear-wheel drive to gain the upper hand at the start of the races.

“I’m starting tenth and it’s going to be wet for tomorrow morning so if I can maybe make a couple of places and hopefully hold those positions then that will be brilliant.”

Team boss Rob Austin will start from 13th for race one after his fastest time was disallowed for exceeding the track limits. Austin is happy for Hill, despite being out-qualified by his less-experienced team-mate.

“Being outqualified is not a problem at all,” admitted Austin. “I’ll no doubt get a load of stick for it from all of the boys, but I can take that. I’m really glad and he’s been brilliant all day. I took a risk on him so it’s making me proud, it’s worth it so far.”

Austin admitted that since his second-race accident at Silverstone he has been struggling with the set-up on his Audi and that he was not completely happy with his laps on Saturday.

“I seem to struggle here and I don’t feel like I got a great lap together,” added Austin. “Something’s been not quite right ever since the shunt with Wrathall. In Silverstone race two it wrote off Wrathall’s sub-frame and we thought we’d got away with it really lightly until we came to set it up.  Something’s not quite right. But the main story is Jake!”

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