Monday, March 31, 2014

BTCC: Rob Austin stuns with pace in BTCC opener at Brands Hatch

Rob Austin Racing Press Release

Fifth place in race 1; 28th to 11th in race 3… Worcestershire’s Rob Austin and his Rob Austin Racing team showed in today's opening rounds of the Dunlop British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch just why they can be a major threat in this year’s title race.

After qualifying 11th fastest – just 26 100ths of a second away from pole position – Rob's Exocet Racing-backed Audi instantly made places at the start of race 1. In the closing stages he moved into fifth position and at the finish line had closed to within just 3/10ths of a second of the two factory Hondas ahead of him. Consistently fast lap times also suggested he would have also threatened the race leaders had he not been delayed in the early stages…

There were therefore high hopes of a podium result in race 2 only for them to be ruined when his Audi’s propshaft broke as he left the grid. This meant he would start race 3 from 28th place on the grid and, with nothing to lose, he produced a driving masterclass as he picked off his rivals left, right and centre – 17 in fact including reigning champion Andrew Jordan and all in front of live ITV4 cameras. Rob was also one of only three drivers in race 3 to lap below the 49-seconds mark as he finished in 11th position.

Rob, from Evesham, commented: “Race 2 was gutting, particularly as it had a knock-on effect for race 3, but my mechanics did a great job as ever to put everything right and we have got some massive positives to take away from today. We’ve totally lived up to the hype of our pre-season testing pace and, against one of the most competitive grids in BTCC history, have matched the bigger factory teams for raw speed and really given them something to think about.

“It was also hugely satisfying personally to be the one to take the fight to all those champions at the front of the grid in race 1. Race 3 was just relentless – closing on people, weighing them up and sticking moves on them. That stands as one of the best races I’ve ever done.

“The support as ever has been awesome from all our sponsors, partners and brilliant fans who’ve joined the Rob Austin Racing Owners Club and got all their pictures on the roof of my Audi, 'Sherman'. Donington Park is next up on Easter Sunday and a strong run there in all three races will really help keep the points leaders in sight.”

Rob’s new team-mate Hunter Abbott (Maidenhead) spent the weekend getting to grips with racing in touring cars for the first time and his debut ended on an upbeat note with a maiden points finish with 15th place in race 3 in his AlcoSense Breathalysers Racing Audi.

Hunter said: “I’ve been encouraged by my pace first time out but there’s an awful lot to learn – how to get the best out of the car and tyres in qualifying, the different traits of the different drivers as well as the whole discipline of a touring car race. Bear in mind I come from GT racing where there is very little contact and in the BTCC there’s quite a bit of pushing and shoving. Now I’ve got my first three races out of the way I’m definitely targeting improvements for Donington.”

Photo credit: Phil Laughton Photography