Cameron Hill has missed out on a victory in the opening race of the 2017 Toyota 86 Series at Phillip Island today, being taken out of the race lead by contact from another competitor.
Hill qualified the Southern Star Truck Centre/National Capital Toyota/Anytime Fitness Toyota 86 on pole position, even despite having his fastest lap time disallowed due to a pit-lane infringement.
“There was a red flag during the session and we pushed our car into pit lane too quickly before the session resumed, but fortunately my second-fastest time was still enough for pole,” Hill explained.
Hill took the early lead before the race was neutralised with the Safety Car at the end of the first lap, due to a mid-pack incident.
At the restart, Hill held a slender lead from Aaron Seton, and in response he set the fastest lap of the race on the fifth lap.
“Through the high-speed corners, my car felt a bit loose so although I was able to hold the lead, I wasn’t able to pull away,” Hill said.
On the penultimate lap, Hill copped a hit in the left-rear from Aaron Seton at Southern Loop – the contact forced Hill wide, but critically it also caused significant tyre damage.
Hill limped home over the final two laps to be classified in 35th position.
“It was really unfortunate that the angle of the impact was enough to puncture the tyre,” Hill said.
“After the pace we showed in qualifying and the race, it was a disappointing way to end the day.”
For his part in the incident, Seton received a 30-second penalty.
“The category officials made it very clear that there was going to be a zero-tolerance policy regarding car-to-car contact, so it’s good to see that has been upheld,” Hill said.
Hill said the team’s focus now turns towards ensuring the car is fully repaired for tomorrow.
“The main objective now is damage limitation – making sure we come out of the weekend with a solid bundle of points,” Hill said.
“In the Toyota 86 Series, the cars are evenly matched and overtaking is difficult, but I’ll be doing my best to charge forward in tomorrow’s two races.”
Race 2 will be held at 9:40am, with the final at 12:00 midday.