Cameron Hill says laps on a wet racetrack were the most valuable aspect of today’s two New Zealand Toyota 86 Racing Championship races at the ITM 400, Pukekohe.
Aboard his Speed Works Toyota 86, also supported by regular sponsors Southern Star Truck Centre, National Capital Toyota and Anytime Fitness, Hill set the fastest lap in Race 1, moving up from sixth on the grid to run as high as third. A collision with another car caused him to lose power with a damaged air intake, and he fell to eighth at the finish.
“It was a dogfight in the early laps – there was a Safety Car, and when the race restarted we were all battling fiercely for position,” Hill said.
“A car went off the track and when it rejoined, the field was checked up and I collided with the car in front because I had nowhere to go. Because of the air-box damage, the car went into limp mode and I was losing a lot of straight-line performance for the rest of the race.”
However, this proved to be a positive when the top eight positions were reversed for Race 2, elevating Hill to pole position. The weather conditions worsened and Hill survived a couple of high-speed excursions at the end of the back straight to finish in fourth position.
“The track was very wet for Race 2 and we were running the dedicated wet-weather tyres,” Hill said.
“Unfortunately, pole position ended up being a disadvantage because there was more grip on the drier line on the outside, so I lost some places off the start.
“I had a big moment at the end of the back straight where the ABS kicked in and the car wouldn’t stop – fortunately I managed to avoid running into other cars.
“Once I re-joined, it took me a few laps to understand the performance of the wet tyres, but I found a rhythm and our pace was good towards the end.
“I went side-by-side with Reid Harker in the battle for fourth, which was good fun!
Hill said he learned a lot from the wet weather racing experience.
“All the New Zealand drivers have done a lot of racing in these conditions, on a dedicated wet tyre, so it was good to go wheel-to-wheel with them.
“I’m hoping it dries out for tomorrow as I’m very happy with our dry pace.”
The third and final race will be held tomorrow at 1:20pm New Zealand time (11:20am AEDT).