Monday, July 1, 2013

BTCC: Ups and downs for Rob Austin Racing Audi at halfway mark

By Tarek Ramchani

The halfway mark in the 2013 British Touring Car Championship has been reached, with five rounds out of ten having already been run. Rob Austin Racing is the only Audi team in the field with their two Audi A4 NGTC cars. The team's two drivers are Rob Austin with the #13 Audi along with his teammate Will Bratt in the sister #14 machine. It has been a case of ups and downs so far for the WIX Racing backed team. Some good performances in various events, where the Audi A4 NGTC battled really well in a very demanding field. However the team has had some mixed and disappointing results at some venues as well. The obvious lack of top speed is really penalizing the team, when compared to the rival cars and brands.

In the overall driver's standing Rob Austin is fourteenth with 52 points and Will Bratt is eighteenth with 22 points. In the independent driver's standings Rob Austin is eleventh with 76 points and Will Bratt is fifteenth with 47 points.

Here is a complete round-up of Rob Austin Racing's season so far in the demanding BTCC.

Round 1: Brands Hatch

The 2013 BTCC got underway at Brands Hatch. The pair of Audi A4 NGTC cars from WIX Racing (Rob Austin Racing) showed good pace during testing, and Rob Austin continued this good form by qualifying in the top ten. Austin chose to use his soft tires for the first race and he rocketed from seventh to second after the first sequence of corners. He then took the lead and led the first lap of the new BTCC season. Ultimately the soft tires gave in and Austin finished in third. Race two and three saw DNF finishes for Austin with race three seeing a large crash for him. The driver was unharmed and the car was reported as repairable. Rob’s teammate Will Bratt fought hard and achieved a twelfth and fourteenth.

Round 2: Donington Park

Round two of the British Touring Car Championship was held at Donington Park. Rob Austin Racing completed a brilliant repair job, as they successfully repaired the #13 Audi A4 after a massive crash at Brands Hatch last time out. The Audi team expected to perform well at round two, however issues with their straight-line speed hampered them all weekend long. Ultimately they qualified and finished outside of the top ten in all of the races.

Round 3: Thruxton

Thruxton is the fastest circuit in Britain, and hosted the third round of the British Touring Car Championship. Rob Austin Racing have been plagued by low top speed performance this year. It was evident at Donginton, but even more so at Thruxton. The team struggled for pace and qualified in the lower half of the field. The three races on the day yielded similar results for the team and their Audi A4s, as they were confined to the rear of the grid.

Round 4: Oulton Park

The fourth round of the British Touring Car Championship was held at Oulton Park. It looked like another tough outing for Rob Austin Racing and their two Audi A4 NGTC race cars. They qualified well down the order with the highest placed RAR Audi in eighteenth. The first race saw both Audis recovering, but they finished outside of the top ten. Rob Austin put in a great drive to grab a top ten in race two, finishing in eighth. The third and final race of the day saw Austin starting third on the reverse grid. He rocketed into the lead and lead half of the race, before being punted out of the lead, he ultimately finished in fifth. His teammate, Will Bratt, came from much further behind and stormed into the top ten finishing in sixth place.

Round 5: Croft

Croft hosted the fifth meeting of the British Touring Car Championship. Rob Austin Racing and their two Audi A4 NGTC cars were at the event and showed good initial pace during practice. However they qualified in the lower half of the top twenty. The first race saw both Audis improving as Austin got up to thirteenth and Bratt fifteenth. Race two yielded similar results as Austin finished in fourteenth and Bratt eighteenth. During the third and final race of the day Rob Austin was able to finish in eleventh.

The sixth meeting of the season will be at Snetterton after the long summer break, taking place on August 3rd and 4th.

Photo credit: Phil Laughton Photography

Rounds 1-5 text based on our weekly Audi Motorsport Blog Weekend Round Up posts. The WRU series of posts can be seen HERE.