Tuesday, September 9, 2014

BTCC: Victory for Rob Austin, Exocet Racing at Rockingham

Rob Austin Racing Press Release

Worcestershire’s Rob Austin (Evesham) celebrated his 100th Dunlop British Touring Car race weekend in the best possible style with a hugely popular victory at Northamptonshire’s Rockingham circuit this afternoon.

Rob won the third of the day’s three races by leading every lap in front of the live ITV4 cameras. Notably his win is the first for his Audi in Exocet Racing colours and the second of his career after he also won at Rockingham 12 months ago.

The win capped the most competitive showing to date this season for his Pershore-based Rob Austin Racing squad which prepares his and team-mate Hunter Abbot’s Audis. Indeed Hunter was also one of the stars of the day as he made up a staggering 17 places in race 1 to finish in 14th in his AlcoSense Breathalysers Racing machine (problems in qualifying meant he started 31st and last). That was just two places behind Rob in 12th as he reached his landmark BTCC century in race 1.

In race 2 Rob and Hunter were on the move again as they finished in excellent fifth and 10th positions respectively – the first time this year that both RAR-run cars had crossed the line inside the top 10. While Rob was able to achieve the win in race 3, though, there was heartbreak for Hunter whose car retired on the opening lap with damage following contact from a rival.

Meanwhile Rob’s win in race 3 has elevated him to a fine ninth position in the BTCC drivers’ standings.

“I feel a party coming on! What a day...” commented Rob. “I was unhappy with qualifying only 13th fastest yesterday but it seems 13 is lucky for some! To win again is something else and it gives everyone in the team another massive lift following our strong showing in the previous rounds at Knockhill.

“We’d opted to run the softer compound tyre in race 3 so I really had to nurse it in the opening laps and with the ‘old master’ (and former double champ) Alain Menu right behind me it was a balancing act between keeping him just out of reach but not overcooking the rubber. At mid-distance I decided to get the hammer down and then in the closing laps, when I could feel the tyres start to fade, I’d got enough of a lead over him.

“But the win is not just down to me of course. Everyone in the team goes to incredible lengths behind the scenes whether that’s back at base in Pershore or in our pit garage at the track – last night the boys were here until midnight working on both cars, going through the data and making the set-up better on both cars. But that is what it takes and it’s paid off.

“I’m also delighted for Hunter today. It’s still his first season at this level and I’ve been saying for a while he was going to be one to watch. Hopefully the pace and racecraft he’s demonstrated this weekend will really make people sit up and take notice.”

Hunter said: “I’m very satisfied with how the first two races panned out – in race 1 it was great fun overtaking so many people but I certainly don’t think I could have wrung any more from the car! In race 2 I got trapped behind a slower driver for several laps which was frustrating but once past I flew which again showed just how competitive we’ve been here.

"Race 3… what can I say except I’m gutted? Like Rob I’d gone for the soft tyre option and who knows where I might have got to – I was already up to eighth when I got harpooned from the rear.

“But there are some massive positives to take from the weekend and I can’t wait for the next three races at my home circuit of Silverstone in three weeks (27/28 Sept).”

Photo credit: Rob Austin Racing / Phil Laughton Photography