The 22-year-old from Canberra had never finished in the top three of a Carrera Cup race before today, but a superb pole position and then a bold pass for the lead in today’s 33-lap Enduro Cup race at Hidden Valley delivered a stunning win to the single-car team from Canberra.
Adrian Flack beat the heat to take his first TAG Heuer Pro-Am class victory of the season, finishing inside the top-10 outright.
Hill’s maiden victory was his first in Porsche competition, following an impressive junior career that delivered an Australian Formula Ford Championship and wins in Toyota 86 series competition.
Hill becomes the fourth different race winner of the season and sees his single-car team break a seven-race streak of victories by the four-car strong Sonic Racing outfit.
“That’s the toughest race I’ve ever done,” Hill said.
“It was hard to get a start from the dirty side of the track but I felt I had the pace on Mike (Almond). I was all over him and the Safety Car was just what I needed to cool my tyres down.
“I’m not sure what happened, maybe he made a mistake at turn one, but I put my head down and made sure they didn’t see me again. There’s so many people behind the scenes that have helped us out to keep us on track. We’re only a small team and we don’t have huge resources to go testing, so this was a great opportunity to show what we have on a level playing field.”
Flack attributed his first Pro-Am class victory of the season to making the right decisions following a wild mid-race restart that saw cars spread across the track as they raced towards turn five.
“I saw it all happen and had to pick left or right, decided left was it and put the foot into it!” he explained.
“It was pretty exciting. Firstly, getting away and getting through the first lap or two was key. I was able to hook onto the back of (Steven) Richards and it was good to keep that back and stay out of trouble.”
The race was a rough and tumble affair at times with a mid-race Safety car spicing up the action.
In baking sunshine and 30-plus degree temperatures, the race commenced with Michael Almond making a perfect start from the outside of the front row, leading the field into turn one. The South Australian led the first 15 laps under pressure from Hill, only to lose the lead a lap later following a Safety Car period.
The race was slowed to allow for the recovery of Tim Miles’ crashed car, after the McElrea Racing driver hit the fence on the exit of turn one.
Miles had been battling with Sam Shahin for a position on the podium in Pro-Am, however ran wide on the exit of the first corner, spinning across to the inside tyre wall. Miles emerged unscathed, with the team hoping to repair the damage in time for tomorrow.
Almond led the field back to green however, ran slightly wide at turn one which allowed his young rival to sneak up the inside and grab a lead he would never lose.
While wild racing unfolded behind him, Hill pulled away to record a comfortable three-second victory.
Almond finished second to record his best finish of the season, though had to survive a heady battle with former champion, David Wall to get there.
Wall, however, dropped back through the field after suffering damage to his radiator – limping home to sixth place before shutting his overheating car off as he crossed the line.
Attention then turned to the fight for the final step on the podium which was being waged between Sonic Racing teammates, Dale Wood and Jordan Love.
Love, second in the championship, started the race ninth however made quick work though the field to close on the championship leader on lap 29.
He then made a bold move at turn one on the final lap: locking a brake and making contact with Wood as he hustled his way past to third place.
The contact was deemed to be under investigation by race officials post-race.
Warren Luff finished a solid fifth, Wall sixth and Nick McBride got home in seventh. Steven Richards climbed into the top-10 to finish eighth place, with Adrian Flack ninth and first in TAG Heuer Pro-Am.
Duvashen Padayachee completed the top-10, while local hero Thomas Maxwell recovered to eleventh position.
Maxwell had run eighth early in the race however spun off the road on the sixth lap, dropping to last.
On the restart he made quick progress through the field to salvage a result and a solid starting position for tomorrow.
Young-gun Cooper Murray was another to slip to the back of the field after he spun down the order on lap eighteen, following the restart.
With Flack taking victory in TAG Heuer Pro-Am, Liam Talbot finished second in class while Sam Shahin worked his way through the field with aplomb to finish third.
Two sprint races will conclude the fourth round of the Porsche PAYCE Carrera Cup Australia championship tomorrow at the BetEasy Darwin Triple Crown.
Results from race one remain provisional pending the completion of post-race investigations.
Schedule, Round 4, Hidden Valley Raceway, Darwin.
Sunday, June 16
Race 2: 10:25am (18 Laps)
Race 3: 12:20pm (18 Laps)