Monday, June 30, 2014

BTCC: Austin "Gutted" with Croft results as Abbott shines with top form

Rob Austin Racing Press Release

Worcestershire’s British Touring Car team Rob Austin Racing leaves Croft Circuit tonight licking its wounds after a robust three races at the North Yorkshire track in which Rob Austin was denied a chance to show his fighting form near the front, although there were two breakthrough results for rookie team-mate Hunter Abbott (see sidebar).

Rob started the opening race from a strong10th position on the grid in his Exocet Racing Audi but within just two corners had been spun round by a rival driver. He rejoined in 22nd place and produced a stunning comeback drive to cross the line in 13th – three positions behind Hunter who enjoyed his best result to date by far in the BTCC with an excellent 10th in his AlcoSense Breathalysers Racing machine having started from 17th.

Significantly the lap times of both RAR-prepared Audis suggested they were among the six fastest cars on track and indeed were untouchable through the third sector of the lap.

Race 2 for Rob was cruelly over within seconds after his Audi was squeezed by two slower starting cars ahead of him – contact sending his car spinning off the track with broken suspension. Hunter held 11th position for much of the race and again set top six lap times but was to retire with damaged steering.

This meant unrepresentative starting positions of 26th and 28th for Hunter and Rob in race 3. Hunter would go on to take a fine 11th place result after passing eight rivals on the opening lap alone before making up another six spots before the chequered flag – his fastest lap time matching that of double champion Jason Plato’s factory MG in 10th. But the anticipated charging drive through the pack from Rob sadly never materialised after contact from the factory Honda of triple champion Matt Neal sent him spinning into a barrier and retirement.

Rob commented: “I’m absolutely gutted, particularly as we clearly had the potential to be right up there pushing for podium results – the pace of the cars when we were running smoothly has been stunning. I was really happy with my comeback drive in race 1 but unfortunately my day has been ruined by a couple of drivers simply wiping me out. But I’m delighted for Hunter – we’ve said all along how fast we know he is and today he’s driven really well. He thoroughly deserves his results and I’m sure he’ll build on this and we’ll see a lot more of the same from him in the season’s second half.

“Above all I have to applaud my team’s mechanics. I dropped the ball in practice yesterday and crashed which left them with a big job to have the car ready for qualifying which they did. Then there’s been damage in every race today but every time – and under massive pressure – they’ve worked miracles to have the car ready again and deserved a lot more to show for their incredible work. It’s been immense and I’ll be buying them a few rounds of drinks at least to say thank you.”

He added: “At least we now have the six-week break to repair the car before the season resumes in early August. I predict we will come back very strong and be able to put together a really good run of results at Snetterton, Knockhill and Rockingham. We never give up.”

Photo credit: Phil Laughton Photography