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Wednesday, 29 March 2017

BTCC Team Hard's Jake Hill: 'You have to be worried about everyone'

 Jake Hill: ‘You have to be worried about everyone’

Team Hard driver Jake Hill spoke to me at the end of the media day at Donington. There was a bit of character building on this particular day. Hill endured an issue or two which prevented him from running as much as he would have liked. However, he seemed very optimistic about his chances and realistic as to where he and the car are going to be at least at the start of the season.

When asked about his day Hill had this to say ‘I’ve had better, still learnt a couple of things that we wanted to tick off the list’. So even though he didn’t have the best day he is looking at the positives. Plus, they have another testing session before the season opener at Brands Hatch which should allow them to ‘continue to learn and dial out the issues’ as Hill said himself. He also talked about how the car is completely different to last years but not better or worse. It is all about learning the car as it is so different. Seems the main focus is on learning the car and going from there. That sounds like a good plan to me, sorting out the car as it is pivotal, no matter how good your driver or your luck is, if the car isn’t up to scratch then you won’t get the best results consistently. Hill sounds as if he is going to be patient and good things come to those who wait!

Hill seemed much more positive about potentially getting a reverse grid pole. He informed that three times last year where he was in the right position before a mechanical issue happened then he would have got them. He also mentioned that Sam Tordoff inherited them and that was ‘great’. His luck may have changed as Tordoff has spread his wings and is not racing in BTCC this season. So there is hope now for a reverse grid pole if there is no mechanical issues! Hill clearly believes his car has what it takes to get to at least 10th position!

 Hill straight away named Colin Turkington as his biggest worry. Turkington may have new-found motivation after moving teams, Hill said Turkington may not have shown full pace today but will be ‘lit’. He also mentioned that the Honda’s will bounce back but said the ‘whole grid is stronger than it has ever been since around the 90’s’ Shows you why Hill is being optimistic since the grid is so strong, battles will be intense and close. It also suggests how Hill himself is strong as he is driving in the same category as legends like Plato and Turkington and has done for the past few seasons.
It became very clear that despite how strong the field is, Hill is going to forget about everyone else and do his own thing. Sticking to their own plans and in testing making sure they get through everything the mechanics want to run through. Even if he is worried about them, he will mentally put that to one side and do the very best he can. I think we should all watch out for Jake Hill, not only him but team Hard are going to come out fighting with all they’ve got and I cannot wait to see how not only the car but Hill develops over the course of the season! 

Sorry Jake but I couldn’t resist including this photo, good luck for the season!

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

BTCC Jack Goff: Points make prizes

I spoke to BTCC Eurotech driver Jack Goff at the media day held at Donnington to look ahead at the 2017 season.

Goff had a very good day ending P5 out of the 32 cars which are taking part in the season. He believes it will be possible to achieve podiums and potentially wins early on due to the pace the car has. Goff said himself ‘pull my best sector times together (he encountered traffic during his best lap) and I think we are P2’ However, he is realistically in that he only knows what ballast and engine forms and testing programme his own team have done today. So, in that respect as much as you can compare his times to other cars, you cannot be sure. 

When asked about who his biggest competitors will be this season Goff said straight away his team mate Jeff Smith. ‘Your first instinct is to check where your team mate is’ It is fair to say Goff didn’t know where Smith was when he got out the car today. Unfortunately, Smith sustained an injury which forced him out of testing during the media day and he decided to go for a walk about around the circuit. Although we never know, Smith could have gone to every corner and watched how Goff approached it. So maybe someone with Smith’s experience watching trackside may be able to give Goff some tips or noticed things which may make both their cars stronger. 

Team orders are something which rear their heads every now and again in motorsport so I decided to ask Goff how he feels towards team orders if it came into play. There was no hesitation in Goffs voice when he responded ‘if I have 25kg ballast on me and Jeff has nothing and he’s coming up fast, then I will let him past and vica versa.’ Showing that Goff ultimately thinks about getting the best results for not only himself but for the team and the sponsors. These two clearly have a good friendship off the track and the same goals so this maybe a deadly duo.

While waiting for Goff, Jo (press officer for Eurotech) mentioned that she keeps getting confused as Goff was wearing one of Smith’s race suits because Goff’s hadn’t turned up yet! Which led me to ask about a little rumour Jo had told me about the two drivers and their racing shoes. A couple of Smith’s fan groups noticed he took two pairs of shoes and it became apparent he will be called two shoes. It’s all fun and games with this team! That was evident for me to see as everyone was just so lovely and easy to talk to. Made it easier for me as I was quite nervous!

I always wondered if the first race weekend was mentally important for a driver and if Goff would be affected by Brands Hatch being a bad weekend. Goff informed me that for the last two years they’ve had podiums and it’s gone down-hill from there. It seems if he did have a bad first weekend, he would embrace it and it would only encourage him more. It is all about being in those fights for the points and chipping away.

‘At the end of the day points make prizes so we have to go out there and keep chipping away but also be consistent at the same time.’ By far my favourite quote from Goff, it shows how he knows it is not all about winning in this championship, it’s about being consistent and getting the points they can and taking whatever chances come their way. This is one driver and one team you need to keep your eyes peeled for. They will give 110% and they are going into the season with a strong car and a positive approach. 

I would like to say a special thanks to Jo for giving me the opportunity to interview Goff and for their lovely hospitality and friendliness throughout the garage. Also to one of my favourite people Hannah for capturing the car in all their glory and me achieving a goal by interviewing a driver.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Why do I like motorsport?

Why do I like motorsport?

Whenever I tell people I love motorsport half the time the response is ‘really? But it’s boring they just drive around in circles?’ First of all, F1 and BTCC don’t drive in circles, that’s oval racing. They will make that comment and unleash my passion for motorsport. They are stuck talking to me until they understand where I am coming from. But I do love motorsport, for so many reasons.

It is always different. You have a different track which means a different set up to the car, different tyre compounds. Different weather which can be unpredictable and mix up a grid in qualifying or make a race more exciting by the weather suddenly going from sunny to rainy. All of these will change each race weekend and can still be changed during the race weekend. That is the beauty of it for me. I love the unpredictability, one wrong move or decision and someone else can win a race or get that all-important point. There are a lot of make or break moments, has the audience on the edge of their seat not knowing the outcome. For example, if a pit stop goes wrong and loses time in the pits, important points and positions can be lost which the driver and team may not be able to get back.

There is so much to learn as it is always changing. As rules and the sport changes, there are new things to learn. New regulations with the car or rules which can impact other aspects of the sport. Take F1 this year for example, the cars have changed dramatically due to regulations and it seems to have ignited excitement with the fans again. They think the cars look cooler and faster and more dramatic. So everyone is excited to see them all race together and for the driver to report back on how they personally feel about the car. It is new and it raises questions and theories which get people thinking. Will it help their team? Will one team do what Mercedes and Red Bull have done in the past and build the perfect car and run away with at least the team championship? So many questions which gets everyone waiting to hear those famous words ‘AND LIGHTS OUT AND AWAY WE GO’

The community is a bit part for me as I have spoken about before. I love that I am able to connect with people and meet people I never thought I would. I have a handful of friends I have been lucky enough to meet that I have met through the internet or going to an event. For example, when I camped at Snetterton for BTCC last year I met two girls who let us sit in their tent when it was chucking it down and they had a bigger tent than me and my friend. That night we all got talking and got on so well that we still stay in contact and I am staying with them on Wednesday before heading to Donnington and I cannot wait to see these girls. The motorsport community is something I feel very blessed to be a part of, everyone is friendly and we all have quite healthy rivalries; okay sometimes they may contain some banter and digs but it’s all light-hearted! 

I love motorsport for so many reasons and I will be more than happy to explain to anyone why it is not ‘just driving in circles’. The final thing I tell them is that it is a part of who I am, a very big part. So much in-fact I feel myself writing or watching motorsport and I am at my very happiest when I am at a track with good people. I always think back to the Sunday morning at Snetterton sitting by the track watching the cars go by. 

This is that very picture, no care in the world watching what I love surrounded by friends and strangers I could strike up a conversation with if I wanted because we were both at snetterton for the same reason.

These are just some of the reasons I love motorsport. Some people may have different reasons or similar but I love that we can all come together and respect everyone. This is the sport I love and always will.