ROKiT MB Motorsport’s Jake Hill converted his pole position start to take the opening race victory of the Lokring UK sponsored raceday by a comfortable 3.6s margin in the end. However, that was far from the complete story. In a mouth-watering bumper-to-bumper, door-to door war in the opening stages, with Hill and Sutton swapping paint and positions on several of the opening laps, delivering an opening gambit to the day befitting for the thousands of race fans who had packed into Knockhill today to witness the 30th Anniversary meeting for themselves.
Straight from the off, Sutton had Hill under pressure with the front-wheel drive NAPA Racing UK car looking to exploit any advantage over the rear-wheel drive BMW in the opening stages and duly took the lead of the race with a spectacular move around the outside of Duffus Dip. The two cars at the front, one giving it everything to make a gap and the other giving it everything to stay in touch, with Sutton dropping a wheel into the gravel through the chicane and Hill locking up into the hairpin and colliding with the rear of Sutton’s car; all whilst Colin Turkington sat behind in 3rd position with his popcorn watching the show.
A few more side by side tussles ensued, with Hill admitting that things got slightly feisty for a few laps, even requiring the intervention of the team radio for him to take a step back to move forward. Gathering his thoughts behind Sutton before posting the fastest lap of the race with a 51.316s lap to roar past Sutton and into the lead. From there, Hill led each-and-every lap opening-up a gap of 3.640s to win by a comfortable margin in the end.
It was hardly a comfortable ending for Sutton, with Turkington breathing down his neck all the way to the finish line. Throughout the field, there were some tasty battles with Butcher and Shedden, Cook and Morgan and Ingram and Gamble having their own private tussles. Morgan making his way through the field to P14 after starting at the rear of the gird for race one following an issue on the warm-up lap. Shedden, after some throttle issues these past few days made his way, past brother-in-law Butcher to take P7; meanwhile Ingram, despite the lack of hybrid, was able to hold on for a strong P6 finish. Ominous perhaps, with his car no doubt ready to mix it up in races two and three later today.
“I got a good start, but I couldn’t get away. It got a bit feisty in the middle there, but I’d say it was still fair racing though and took a radio message and for me to realise I needed to calm down and then I just took it from there,” said Hill.
Sutton, exiting the car with a huge smile in his face commented:
“I had a good go. I thought we had a blinder at the start, the contact I got from Jake and Colin unsettled the car a bit and I had to concede the win to Jake and focus on defending from Colin for the remainder of the race.”
Race two for the BTCC comes up at 14:15pm and if Race 1 is anything to go by, it should be a proper spectacle.