Robert Hill 2015-2016

   Robert Hill 2015 – 2016 Series Blurbs

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rob 2

Hampton Downs

BMW E30 Blog 2/3 april

Saturday 2nd April was a mixture of rain and sunshine making the conditions tricky for everyone out there. One minute the track was wet, the next minute there was a dry line and then nec minute the track was completely dry. Getting your setup right was tricky and there are always different theories on tyre pressures in the wet, some swear soft and some hard.

Qualifying went well, I managed to get a clear track for most of the run and posted a 1:24.9 on a mainly dry track, which was 4th fastest in my group.
Peter and the crew at P&S autos did some work on the car since the last round and the handling was much improved so thanks again to those guys for keeping the car on the pace for me.

The race was run on a damp track, I had a poor start by spinning up the rear wheels and going nowhere… I dropped to about 9th into the first corner, made up a couple of places on the first lap to be 7th, then aided by a couple of spins in front of me, got up to 5th and I closed up to Jackson Power who was running 4th but I could not quite get past. I was then overtaken by Tony Munns on the run up to the line on the last lap to finish 6th which is ok after such a bad start.

My sister Bridget and my mum came to watch and they were impressed with the closeness of the racing – its always good to have support on race days.

Sunday 3rd April

The reverse grid race was again on a damp track, I was 8th and managed to finish 3rd, a great result and only 1 small moment when I outbraked myself going into the hairpin but I managed to keep it going and was stoked with the good result.

The final points race also had me in 8th position in the fast group… It’s very competitive at that end of the field, I got trapped on the outside of a couple of corners and dropped to 12th and just managed to keep John Blewett out over the last few laps.

Well, that’s it, BMW E30 rookie season over. I sadly handed the keys over and watched car 80 drive away.

It has been an awesome experience, the realisation of a lifelong dream to race cars. I want to thank the BMW race drivers series and its sponsors for the unique opportunity that the scholarship car provides.

I met a diverse bunch of people who are all passionate about racing cars and I would like to say a big thanks for making me so welcome.

I had another good weekend of racing and managed to hold on to the top rookie of the year spot and I should finish within the top 15 out of 47.

No pressure on the new scholar but that is 2 top rookie awards in a row for the scholarship car 80!
Remember July 30th is the date that the next scholarship will be awarded so get your entry in now

I am looking for a car for next season so see you out there.



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Well what a weekend that was at the Tasman Revival at Pukekohe Park Raceway on 20-21st February.Well, that was a pretty action and event packed weekend of BMW E30racing!

I didn’t manage to get to the Friday practice day which means you have to be on your game from the first lap of qualifying.
Fortunately, I had raced here in November so remembered the track reasonably well and qualified 8th in my half of the field with a 1:25.5 – not the best driving but at least I was mid pack and not at the back.
I had a good start and moved up to 5th after the first lap, with John Thompson in hot pursuit. I managed to hold John off until the 6th lap but he got past when I out braked myself going into the chicane at the end of the back straight.
I then had Laurie Griffin on my tail for the last 2 laps and just managed to hold him out and finished 6th so pretty pleased with that.
I managed a 1:24.9 during the race which is my best lap time.

I started 8th in the reverse grid race, made up a couple of places but then got swamped by the fast guys with a couple of laps to go and finished 9th.

I qualified 12th in the final handicap race – the top half of the draw again and brought it home in 11th place after a pretty good duel with John Thompson and also Grant Roe who passed me on the outside of turn 1 – there is just enough room for 2 cars there and going into the next corner side by side wasn’t going to work so I backed off, got a good run on him down the back straight but I couldn’t get past again. Tony Houston and Graeme Linton were breathing down my neck at the finish but I just held them out.

With the close racing, there was a bit of contact in the rest of the field with a few cars needing attention before the next and final round at Hampton downs on 2nd-3rd of April, but I’m sure there will be another great turnout for that event.

My car was blowing a bit of smoke at the end of the weekend but Peter and the crew at P&S Autos will sort it out and have it humming for the next event.


Hampton Downs


Hampton Downs

TRS Interview; The fourth round of the BMW Race Driver Series was held at Hampton Downs as part of the NZ Motor Cup on 30-31st January.

This is the second time our E30 Scholarship winner Rob Hill has raced at Hampton Downs (first being at Icebreaker in September), and we hear how he went below.

Saturday 30/01/16 
Qualifying – Wet tyres fitted as dry ones were out of tread after Taupo plus suspension set on soft, 13th of 15. My poor driving didn’t help either.

Race 1
Started 13th, finished 9th. Great battle with Grant McFie who managed to overtake on last lap.
Not having practice cost me dearly (no practice on Friday) but it was to all work out later in the reverse grid. Accidental sandbagging I call it!

Some of my family came to watch, my wife Jo, Daughter Annabel and boyfriend Hugo. It is great to have their support. Plus my dad and his wife Patricia came to watch and enjoyed the high speed action.
He last saw me drive a car on a track was in 1990 at Brands Hatch in the UK when I was doing the Formula First race school. In a funny coincidence, there was a grid of Formula First cars running this weekend.

Sunday 31/01/2016
Race 2
Reverse grid, started 3rd. Took lead at turn two, inside pass, held lead until lap seven with Grant Schultz in close pursuit.
We held a constant gap for seven laps before Mark Crompton caught me, he gave me a little nudge in turn five then overtook coming over the hill.
I finished in a comfortable 2nd place. I now join the Kermit Club. Those who wear kermit green on various parts of their cars.
Mark is a great competitor and always ready to talk about the race and have a beer after. This is what I love about this series, close racing and a good yarn after.

Race 3
Started 8th in fast group, damp track, average start, held position, good battle with Dave Farmer until he passed, then car 222.
I held on by 1/2 car at finish line – 9th.. A bit of a moment on lap two into turn five when Gerald Fava dive-bombed up the inside on the damp part. I covered and also put it sideways under braking but we all managed to get through unscathed thanks to the skill of all those around us.
Ant Belsham made the most of it by cutting back to the inside for the pass.

Another good weekend for points and I am looking forward to Pukekohe in three weeks.

*The next event is the Tasman Revival at Pukekohe Park Raceway on 20th/21st of February*


The third round of the BMW Race Driver Series was held at the Bruce McLaren Motorsport park in Taupo on 16th and 17th of January.
Our E30 Scholarship winner Rob tells us about how he went below…

Getting ready for Round 3 of the BMW E30 series and I’m looking forward to the weekend away and hoping for better results than Rounds 1 & 2.


Thursday night, pickup rental trailer, pick up car from P&S, drive to Taupo, stay Wairakei resort. New tow bar on my car worked well.

Friday 15/1/16 – Practice

Practice. First time at new circuit, plenty of track time, hot day.
We had the run of the track all day and got some good laps in, 1:55’s which was pretty good. The track has a couple of tricky corners but has a nice flow to it.
We stayed in an apartment in Taupo which was handy for dinner out.

Saturday 16/01/16

The practice day really paid off and I qualified 5th of 14th in Group 1.
Race 1 went well and I was credited with 2nd place. I crossed in 5th but two jumped starts and one stewards penalty for race winner Mark Crompton promoted me to 2nd. I will take that!
I gave evidence to support Mark but the ruling stood.
That was my first visit to the Stewards Office and I hope it will be my last. I had another great battle with Ant Belsham who got beside me a couple of times but I held him out.
Nice clean racing, no contact.

Sunday 17/01/16

Race 2. Reverse grid. Off with last group. Started 12th, finished 7th. Scruitineering noticed that the front left tread was low.
A new set of tyres for the next round.

Race 3. Start 6 in fast group, held position for 3 laps then had brake fade and spun. Got to stop looking in my mirrors so much. Finished 14th out of 15. The funniest thing was Grant Roe, who finished 8th, opening his boot after the race to find two spare tyres, his race jack and other stuff that he had forgotten to unload.

This gave me my best points haul by far despite the spin and we had a great weekend.

The weather was really hot and an evening dip in the lake was refreshing!

I’m looking forward to Hampton Downs in two weeks.


Round 2 of the BMW Race Driver Series in the E30 Sponsorship car was held at Manfield from 13-15 November 2015


I’m excited to be doing the second round of the race series, it’s a long way to travel but I’m excited to be heading down to race again.

I’ve done my homework, I’ve done about 50 laps of Manfied in a simulator, plus watched footage of the E30 series from past seasons at manfield so I have the layout of the track and the approach to the corners in my mind.

I also studies Mike Eady’s book on NZ race tracks to see what the ideal approach to the track is.

I booked a car transported from hireace and I have picked up my mates car to tow the Race car – it’s a black 308KW clubsport with tow bar, tweaked to 350+ kw – thanks Slaney J

Manfield here we come:

Post event:

Thursday 12 Nov

Thursday dawned fine, so I picked up the trailer and headed off to P&S autos who service and look after the scholarship car #80. Peter, Graham and Sam do an amazing job of making sure that the car is prepped and ready to go so thanks again for their continued support – it makes a big difference having experts looking after the car.

We get the car loaded without any drama and head off on our 7 hour trip, with me following Greg Mikkelsen, car #555 at just after 9am. It’s great to see all those cummuters head in as we head away with our race cars in tow.

It turns out Greg isn’t much at multi-tasking and while he was on the phone, he missed the turnoff to the southern motorway at the highbrook junction and heads into Auckland to join the 9am rush hour traffic. Really, he was testing my ability to follow, which I duly failed – I headed south and waited for him at the BP on the southern motorway to fill the tanks for the race car. Thanks for the best laugh of the weekend Greg.

We headed south without any further drama and stopped at Tokora for lunch.

We then Passed Fred/Gerald & the Passrite gang at Turangi when they got pulled over to get the transporter checked on the wightbridge and then they broke down. The cars were offloaded and had to drive the rest of the way – thank goodness the BMW E30 cars are road legal!

We arrived at manfield in Fielding at around 4pm – bang on the 7 hour mark including stops.

I had a spot booked inside the stadium and it turns out there are 2 kinds of spots – those on the nice clean concrete and those on the dirt… I was on the dirt! There were ltos of other cars next to me that were setup with tarpaulins, chairs, tables and in Laurie Griffiths case… even a sofa! So it was off to Bunnings to buy a tarpaulin.

Once we unpacked the car, setup my table and chair on the tarp, we drove to Palmy to check into rental house – only to find that we can’t locate the owner. Greag and I retreated to the nearest pub to contemplate our next move over a cool pint and sure enough, by the time we had finished it, we located him and headed off to meet up.

After a quick dash to the supermarket for necessities like beer, chips, bread and cereal, we headed into town for dinner and got an early night ready for racing the next day

Friday 13 Nov

First up on Friday was Scruitineering, which I failed due to a faulty fire extinguisher (valve broken). A quick trip down to the local bunnings sorted that out.

Finally, we got to do our 2 practice sessions – the track is quite technical but after the simulator, at least I knew the track layout. Getting it right in a real car is a lot different to the simulator but I started to find some rhythm and Qualifyied 22nd of 33, not too bad for a rookie and I managed to beat Graeme Linton in qualifying – just! The cars are so close that I was only 0.5 seconds off 13th place

That night it was Dinner at Rosie O’Grady’s – Kenny Smith and other drivers were also there – it’s a poplar place.

Saturday 14 Nov

Race 1

Started OK, overtook a few cars, doing some good laps, brake pedal issue, spun at the hairpin, hit the tyre wall – stuck – DNF

Not the best result! Apparently running over the ripple strips can cause the brake calipers to disengage and a quick tap with the left foot is recommended.

I wish I had that advice before hand! Another rookie mistake.

We had a bbq at the track with the rest of the BMW guys and it was good to catch up and swap race stories.

Sunday 15 Nov

Race 2

Had wet tyres on – rain stayed away.

Finished race – got mobbed by the faster guys and bashed around a few times

I started in 17th and Finished in 21st out of 30

Again, not the best result – I’m leaving too much room and being too nice – I’ve got to tighten up and mix it up a bit more 

Race 3

Had dry tyres on – started raining.

Was going well but Spun at the same hairpin on exit (but was tapped by someone) – stuck in gravel trap – last place

Found out after that my tyres were on the wrong way round… apparently they are directional… another rookie mistake

Drive home in the pouring rain, subway at Tokoroa

Tail lights fixed with tape

Drop trailer off

Home by 10pm

Quite a long 4 days – it’s a long way but I learned a lot and had a good time away and I’m looking forward to the next round


11.9.15 Friday Practice day
Well here it is – showtime!
Anticipation builds as I pick the BMW E30 race series sponsorship car up from Peter and Sam at P&S Autocentre on the Friday morning for a noisy but fun drive down the motorway to Hampton Downs raceway.
You certainly get some stares when you drive a race ready E30 on the roads!
When I arrived, I caught up with some of the seasoned E30 campaigners who offered me a warm welcome and some handy hints. They are a great bunch of guys and made me feel very welcome.
The first 3 practice sessions were on a wet track and other than a couple of sideways moments, a particularly hairy one through turn 1, it was a good chance to drive the car in the wet.
Fortunately, the rain stopped and the rest of the day was run on a dry track. I tried a few tyre pressure and suspension settings but I’m not really in tune enough with the car yet to feel much of a difference.
I was happy to get into the 1:24’s and was ready for the race weekend.
12.9.15 Saturday Qualifying and first race day
I arrived early enough to make sure that I would be ready but managed to leave the transponder in the charging cradle on the bench and didn’t attach it to the car.
Rookie mistake #1 – put the transponder in the car. Qualifying is much more intense than practice as you only get 8 laps to set your best time and there are a lot of other cars also trying to get good laps in.
For the first race, I started at the back of Group 1 due to my transponder issues and ran around at the back of the field. There is competitive racing right down the field in this class – you are certainly not invited through the field – you have to earn every spot!
I finished 21 out of 22 cars – my overtaking skills are not up to scratch yet which is something that I will have to work on. I was just thrilled to get through the first race unscathed and to see what it’s like to race with cars all around – it takes all of your attention to drive well and not hit anyone!
13.9.15 Sunday races 2 & 3.
I was seeded 2nd on the grid for the reverse grid race and had an average start dropping to 3rd but the race was red flagged due to an incident on the first lap.
I had another chance when we reformed in the same grid positions for the restart – I made a good start, going into the first turn side by side with the car on pole position and I took the lead out of turn #2.
Here I was, leading the field and opening a gap over the first lap and a half – then disaster stuck – I locked up into turn 5, lost momentum and 4 cars zipped past.
Rookie Mistake #2 – watch the track and not your mirrors.
The faster cars then caught and overtook me as the race went on and I dropped down the field but kept out of trouble.
What a buzz to be leading – the reverse grid format certainly mixes things up and make for exciting racing!
For race #3, I started 15th  in the 2nd half of the Grid due to my accumulated points,  I had a bad start, dropping a few places but I then had a wheel to wheel battle over the rest of the race with the other cars around me – tough but fair racing and I have to get used to running the car closer to other cars – the cars are so even that a few metres here or there make the difference – it’s really competitive out there and the standard of driving is very high – these guys know what they are doing.
Overall, probably not a bad result for my first BMW E30 race weekend – I learned a lot more about the car and I’m really looking forward to the future rounds.

Scholarship Day:

29.8 WOW! What a great day we just had for the BMW E30 race series sponsorship car… And I won it!
14 keen racers lined up on the start line to become the 2015/16 sponsored driver and we were certainly tested!
First the beep test, then a mock TV interview, a grilling by the interview panel, driver evaluation with Mike Eady in the new BMW M3 and hot laps with Racing Ray Williams in the sponsorship car.
The beep test was a hard fought affair, coming down to a head to head between the youngest (14) and one of the oldest, me (51).. And I managed to hang on for the win – one in the bag for the oldies!The day doubled as a BMW E30 race series track day and those guys/gals not only showed us how it’s done out there but were also really helpful, supportive and patient towards the sponsorship drivers.

Everyone had a great day and I’m really looking forward to going racing!

Robert Hill