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News 2012: Young drivers get BTCC test with Motorbase

November 8th

Jake Hill and Tom Grainger

Two teenagers from Kent got the opportunity of a lifetime at Brands Hatch today (November 8) when they got behind the wheel of the Motorbase Performance Ford Focus S2000 Touring Car thanks to Team Principal David Bartrum.

Eighteen-year olds Jake Hill from Tunbridge Wells and Tom Grainger from Sidcup got the chance to join Mat Jackson and Aron Smith to test drive the Mountune-powered Ford Focus ST just a few weeks after it was seen by thousands winning race 2 during the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season finale.

"We've given a couple of young drivers, at different stages of their careers, a chance to sample a touring car," explained David Bartrum, boss of the Wrotham-based team. "We're a Kent-based team and these are two young lads from Kent. Tom is starting out and Jake is battling to climb the racing ladder – neither of them is short of talent, just finance."

Jake Hill gets first test in Motorbase S2000The former Ford Saloon racer knows all too well himself just how hard it can be to break into motorsport and is a stronger believer in nurturing young talent and giving those at start of their driving career the opportunity to reach the next rung on the ladder; "We're a relatively young team ourselves, and it's tough out there for young drivers to get the breakthrough they sometimes need."

"I believe as a Kent team with young talent in the county it is our duty to give them a chance to get some exposure," continues Bartrum. "It was great to see the four of them out there on track today; you've got Mat Jackson at the top of his career winning races in the BTCC and Aron Smith who's just completed a very successful first year in Touring Cars alongside these two young local lads, showing them the ropes."

Both drivers are well known to the team; Grainger volunteers to spend two days a week working at Motorbase as part of his studies towards a Motorsport Engineering qualification at Brooklands College and Jake Hill, son of ITV commentator Simon Hill, is already established on the TOCA support package, competing in the Ginetta GT Supercup.

Mat Jackson Jake Hill Tom Grainger Aron Smith"I got the news about the test two weeks ago and couldn't believe it, I was totally shell-shocked!" said Jake. "Hardly anyone gets the chance to drive a touring car so I feel very privileged and grateful to David Bartrum and Motorbase for giving me this opportunity.

"Considering this is my first time in a front wheel drive car, I'm quite pleased with how it's gone! Everyone in the team has been really professional and helpful; Aron's helped me massively with the car and Mat's been giving me advice on the track and the S2000 has been mega! I've loved every minute of it and can't thank David and the team enough."

The step up into the Ford Focus ST is an even bigger step for Grainger, who won the MG Metro title in a £900 car bought off Ebay. "To be honest, I thought the test was a bit of a wind up! When David said if you win the Metro Cup I'll give you a test in the touring car I thought he was joking!" said Tom. "It's been an amazing experience, and one I never dreamed that I would get."

MG Metro Cup Champion Tom Grainger"The test went really well, it was my first time ever on slicks and driving a car with a sequential gearbox so it took a little getting used to" he added. "It was a bit weird actually being in the car though; I'm usually the one taking the wheels off - not driving it!"

"It's been a pleasure having Jake and Tom here with us today and they've surprised me to be honest!" concluded Motorbase boss Bartrum. "They've both been a joy to work with; they've listened and followed instructions very well and done exactly what was asked of them."

"It doesn't mean they will be touring car drivers for us next season, but it will give them an association with the team and it will give them experience of racing at that top level that they wouldn't necessarily get elsewhere."

Click here to view our exclusive gallery from the test day.