Sunday, June 8, 2014

BTCC: Austin returns to front-running form in Oulton Park qualifying

Rob Austin Racing Press Release

Worcestershire’s Rob Austin set the sixth fastest time in this afternoon’s Dunlop British Touring Car Championship qualifying session at Cheshire’s Oulton Park to give him and his eponymous Rob Austin Racing team their best starting grid position of the season so far.

The session ended in frenzied fashion as 30 drivers attempted to improve their time on a rapidly drying track. Rob, who had been on the front-running pace in both the two earlier wet practice sessions, timed it perfectly to secure a superb third row starting position on the grid for the first of tomorrow’s three races in his Exocet Racing Audi A4.

But there was bitter gall for team-mate Hunter Abbott (Maidenhead). He had been looking to challenge for a top ten place but a spin on his crucial final flying lap ruined his chances and as others carried on and improved he tumbled to 24th. It will be fascinating to see how much progress Hunter can make tomorrow in his AlcoSense Breathalysers Racing Audi.

Rob, from Evesham, commented: “It really came down to that one big pressure lap so I just punched my awesome button and went for it! I actually got held up a bit by another car and almost aborted that lap but am glad I didn’t – I reckon without that delay I’d have been another four tenths of a second quicker.

“After two tough events at Donington and Thruxton we’re back where we belong and this gives everyone in the team a big lift. We’ve said all along we would be much stronger here and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow – I’m in with drivers who know how to race very hard but fair and that always makes a difference, plus our race form is always better than our qualifying form. Fingers crossed we’re going to be in for very competitive results in all three races.”

Hunter said: “I want to forget today. We had a couple of problems with the car in the two earlier practice sessions and then this happens in qualifying when I know a top ten was on. The plan was to follow Rob and both go for a fast time together. Coming into Cascades I just asked a bit too much of the rear end went into a big double 360 spin off the track. I had to wait an age before rejoining safely and by then it was too late to go for another lap.

“All I can do tomorrow is get my head down, keep clear of the inevitable mid-pack trouble and pick my way through for a decent grid position for race two and then we’ll see how it progresses from there. Today's a setback but I'm still optimistic we can salvage something decent from tomorrow."

Photo credit: Rob Austin Racing