Monday, April 21, 2014

BTCC: Day of despair at Donington Park for Rob Austin Racing

Rob Austin Racing Press Release

It never rains but it pours goes the saying and it was wet weather conditions today that played a major role in one of the toughest experiences yet for the Rob Austin Racing team in the Dunlop British Touring Car Championship.

A single point – for setting the fastest lap of anyone in the first of three races – was all driver and team principal Rob Austin was able to manage thanks to a run of appalling luck.

That fastest lap came following a lengthy pit stop to repair damage to the rear of his Exocet Racing Audi ‘Sherman’ which had been snagged by Rob’s team-mate Hunter Abbott’s car which had been shoved into a spin and retirement.

In race 2 Rob was twice swiped by slower drivers – on the second occasion he was force into a spin – before finishing 18th having started from 29th on the grid. In race 3 his classy racecraft moved him from 18th to 10th on the opening lap before he retired his car in the pit lane with substantial rear-end damage after being rammed from behind.

“It’s been a day of despair,” commented Rob. “We genuinely felt our pace in race trim would have brought three solid points results today but instead this. There has also been some moronic driving out there from some people which has affected both me and Hunter. What happened in the second race was a joke, plus it was a chance of a top 10 gone begging. In race 3 I felt I was overtaken when the yellow flags and safety car boards were out which is totally against the rules but even then I reckon we were on for a top eight only to be wiped out. I don’t have anything against the driver in the other car which hit me as he made a genuine error and has apologised but the damage to my car is immense – so much so that the whole steel frame at the rear has been shoved forwards into the rear tyres.

“It means a heap of work needs to be done restoring Sherman for the next rounds at Thruxton. We’ll manage it OK – I have the most dedicated and fantastic mechanics, sponsors and fans of anyone on the grid – and we will come back strong. I am determined of that.”

Hunter’s day was also not without its problems but he, too, is remaining positive for the season ahead in his AlcoSense Racing Audi ‘Panzer’. “In race 1 I was mortified it was Rob’s car I collected but thankfully we both know it wasn’t my doing. In race 2 I had a great first lap – up to 19th from 31st! – only for the conditions to catch me out later and I spun into the gravel which was gutting. I think Rob and I could have both been in the top 10 by the end… Then just as I was coming to the grid to start race 3 the car’s propshaft broke. The team work that went into fixing it in the pit lane was incredible but by that time I was two laps down when I got into the race.

“This has been my second event with the team and it’s clear that today is simply not representative of where we are in terms of our level of competitiveness. There’s so much more to come from me as well as I learn more and more about the Audi and the racing in the BTCC, plus I am thoroughly enjoying the racing in touring cars. It’s been a tough day but I know there are some great results coming our way as the season progresses.”

Photo credit: Phil Laughton Photography