Sunday, June 29, 2014

BTCC: Mixed emotions for Austin, Abbott in Croft BTCC qualifying

Rob Austin Racing Press Release

Austin brands his race mechanics 'A Team of the BTCC' after rescue effort

Worcestershire’s Rob Austin has heaped praise on his race team after a Herculean effort to repair his crashed Exocet Racing Audi in just two hours enabled him to set the tenth fastest time in this afternoon’s Dunlop British Touring Car qualifying session at North Yorkshire’s Croft Circuit. There was also a best qualifying result to date for Rob’s rookie team-mate Hunter Abbott, 17th in his AlcoSense Breathalysers Racing Audi, although both drivers later admitted to being frustrated with their personal performances.

Rob suffered a 5G side-on impact with the barriers when he lost control of his Audi ‘Sherman’ at the Clervaux bend in the second of this morning’s two practice sessions. It meant the Rob Austin Racing crew was faced with a race against time to ready the car for qualifying but miraculously they managed it. Even the passenger door window from team engineer James Weaver’s Audi A4 road car was ‘borrowed’ to help complete the job.

“They are the A Team of the BTCC pit lane!” commented Rob from Evesham. “I made a right mess of things and they put it right. The workload they got through – grinding, fabricating, rebuilding – under great pressure was immense.

“Sherman might have looked a little worse for wear from the outside on track but everything underneath – including crucially the handling – was spot on. An awesome job. If I’d not let the side down in practice then we’d have had time to experiment more with the set-up and perhaps should have been looking at a top three on the grid. Given the situation tenth is a good result but I’m miffed because it should have been better and that’s down to me.

“As it is I’m only half a second off P3 and I know, as ever, that our race pace tomorrow will be better than our qualifying pace compared to our rivals. I’m going for big results in all three races.”

For Hunter it was also a case of what might have been, the Maidenhead driver feeling he missed out on an opportunity to qualify inside the top 12.

“Three more tenths of a second faster and I’d have been there – it’s that close,” he reflected. “The frustrating thing is I know where it was possible to find that time but I drove a bit scrappily and at one corner, where I should have been braking later, my right foot just wouldn't do it! Still it’s my best qualifying position to date in the BTCC and I’m in with a very classy group of drivers around me which I hope means I can have a good clean first race. Then we’ll just take it from there…”

Photo credit: Phil Laughton Photography