Jake Hill left Thruxton surprised to be leading the British Touring Car Championship standings, after the MB Motorsport driver finished third in all three races on a topsy-turvy day in Hampshire.
Hill had qualified in seventh on Saturday but immediately proved he had plenty of race pace on Sunday as he moved up to third in the opening race, benefitting from chaos ahead of him on the road to make up all four places on the opening lap.
Race two then saw the Ford Focus driver hold station in the final podium position, unable to take the challenge to the leading BTC Racing Honda duo of Josh Cook and Dan Cammish.
The final race of the day was the wildest one, as the first start saw a huge crash further down the field which saw the red flags fly.
At the restart Hill, who had started from ninth, had opted to start on slick tyres, in stark contrast to much of the rest of the field.
That looked to be a questionable decision at the end of lap two when he dropped to 20th, but his tyres then came into their operating window and Hill began to scythe his way back through the field, moving up to 12th by lap seven and then into the lead of the race just two laps later.
However, further rain near the end of the race brought the conditions back to the wet-shod runners, and Ash Sutton was able to close in on Hill and re-pass for the lead just three laps from the end.
Hill then lost out to the Vauxhall of Jason Plato at the very end of the race to mean he ‘only’ claimed another third, but his consistent results mean he leaves Thruxton as the series leader, just one point ahead of double winner Josh Cook.
“It was crazy,” said Hill. “When the slicks were coming on and it was drying up, it was knowing when I could go and how much to push on each lap.
“It was easier to still commit to the corner as you usually would but then feel the slide gently.
“As it rained at the end, those last few laps fighting with Ash and then Jason got me on the line, it was such hard work to keep it on the road.
“I was the first person on slicks by a long way in the end and I’m proud of myself and proud of the team, we’ve just done a fantastic job and I can’t believe I’m standings leader!”
Looking back to race two, in which Hill was unable to gain ground on the Hondas, he admitted he was still impressed with the pace of his new Ford Focus, which is a brand new chassis for 2021.
“The Hondas are rapid, there’s no question about it. Josh, even with the weight on board, did a fantastic job so fair play to him. Dan obviously drove really well as well, to be honest I was just really happy to hold onto them.
“I wasn’t able to do that jump, but I was with them pretty much the whole way so it’s a big step forward for us with the Focus.”