Hills takes Rookie of the year in first season
As the dust settles on the 2017 Mazda MX-5 SuperCup season, Worthing based racing driver Aidan Hills picked up the Rookie of the year award at last week’s BRSCC Mazda awards evening. Hills’ first season in circuit racing has had many ups and some downs, but overall has been a success claiming rookie of the year, and an overall 13th in the championship out of a remarkable 63 entry’s. Aidan’s effort is even better when you consider he had to miss 3 races with mechanical failure.
The season started at the famous Brands Hatch circuit in Kent, Hills and his father Daren only finished building the car on the Friday morning before they went testing. So without driving the car and having never driven a rear wheel drive car it was a tough ask for Hills. He qualified an impressive 0.5 seconds off of pole, had an enjoyable 3 races and learned a lot over the weekend. The next round in the championship was at the very difficult Cadwell Park, and this was a real turning point for Hills’ season. The weekend started very badly with a crash in practice and only qualifying in 21st place, but as the weekend went on Aidan showed his character and pace finishing the weekend with his first top ten, finishing 9th in race 3. Not only did he claim his first top ten, he also received the driver of the weekend award.
Round 3 saw the championship at the home of British motorsport, Silverstone. This was arguably Aidan’s best weekend of the year. A Bad qualifying saw him down in 17th, but in race 1 Aidan showed his pace, storming up the grid to finish a season best of 8th position and setting the 3rd fastest lap of the race. Race 2 was probably the best Supercup race of the season to watch with cars battling all race long with Hills in the heart of the battle. Unfortunately in race 3 Hills had a gearbox failure, but it was a positive weekend. Oulton Park was the location for round 4, and Hills came away with a brace of top ten finishes but should have had more after getting caught up in a crash in race 2 put him on the back foot.
Round 5 saw the Supercup move to Snetterton, and Aidan had really good pace. He ran in 4th for a while in race 1, but contact with another driver meant he had to start race 2 from 38th on the grid. With only a 20 minute race, an excellent drive through the field saw Hills finish a remarkable 13th place, showing some really good overtaking moves in the process. The 6th round was in north wales at the picturesque, Anglesey circuit. Hills had really good pace and qualified a season best of 6th place. A set up error for race 1 meant Aidan only managed to finish 10th. Race 2 and race 3 were the first wet races of the year, and hills’ first ever wet races in rear wheel drive and on circuits. Aidan had some good speed but a spin in race 2 meant he had to recover to finish 13th, and a bad start in race 3 saw him finish in 9th, but another brace of top tens!
Round 7 was at Croft circuit and this would be Aidan’s last race weekend of the season. Qualifying went well with the 10th fastest time. An incident in race 1, meant Hills would have to start last (36th) for a wet race 2 climbing the order as he did earlier in the season at Snetterton, Hills finished in 15th place. Unfortunately race 3 was under safety car for most of the race and Hills couldn’t show his potential finishing 13th. Round 8 was at Donnington Park, Unfortunately, Aidan’s engine blew up in Friday practice meaning he couldn’t compete at the last round.
Aidan Hills #80: “Wow, what a first year of circuit racing! It’s been a great season, taking the Rookie of the year award and driver of the weekend at Cadwell were definitely the highlights for me! After being used to winning races and being right at the front in rallycross, it was a bit of shock to only be in and around the top ten, but considering I had to get used to Circuit racing and rear wheel drive after coming from a Rallycross and FWD background, it was always going to be a difficult, but overall I felt I adapted to it well. We improved a lot over the season as a team, we had to learn a new car and a lot about how to set a car up. We’ve also been down on power for most of the season, so hopefully for 2018 with a new engine we can be right up the sharp end, it’s going to be an amazing year supporting TCR UK! I can’t thank my dad and everyone who has helped us this year enough for their support. I’ve got a few test days lined up for the winter, and I can’t wait to get going at Silverstone in March!”