Saturday, April 18, 2015

BTCC: Austin, Abbott fully fired up for Sunday races after Saturday scares

Rob Austin Racing Press Release

Rob Austin (Evesham) and Hunter Abbott (Maidenhead) survived substantial dramas to qualify their Exocet AlcoSense Audis 12th and 21st fastest for the first of tomorrow’s three headline Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at Leicestershire’s Donington Park.

Rob’s performance – just three tenths of a second away from fourth – is by far the best in qualifying for him around Donington in the BTCC. That’s despite his car ‘Sherman’ ending the session parked at the side of the track with – just yards from the driver’s seat – a hole blown through its transmission tunnel after its propshaft exploded while Rob was flat out in sixth gear.

Hunter’s appearance in qualifying was something of a minor miracle. In the morning’s opening practice session his Audi ‘Panzer’ suffered massive rear-end damage when struck from behind at high speed by a rival’s car. A terrific effort from his mechanics enabled to make it out for qualifying in a far-from-perfect car.

Rob commented: “I am very happy with 12th around here which has always been a bogey circuit for us. For once at Donington I feel we’re properly in the mix going into tomorrow’s three races – and remember it’s always in the races when we are at our strongest. This really shows the huge strides we’ve made in developing the car during the winter break back at base in Pershore. Sure we still need to find that bit more but this is really rewarding.

“The propshaft? Yeah… a big hole. There was no real warning, just a big bang. Yes, it is just a few inches from where I sit but I’m OK so no worries.”

Hunter added: “I can’t thank Jack Goff at all for what he did in practice to my car but I also can’t thank my team enough for getting me on track in qualifying. We just thought there would be no way and what they’ve done is miraculous.

“It ain’t pretty and it’s probably still a bit crooked from the impact it took – the steering wasn’t quite bang-on straight and I had quite a bit of oversteer on turn-in – but I know they will work on the car tonight and it will be as good as it possibly can be for tomorrow’s races. I’m still definitely aiming for decent points in all three.”

Sunday's three BTCC races are part of an eight-hour live broadcast from Donington on ITV4 from 10.30am-6.30pm.

Click on any of the images in this press release to download hi-res versions for editorial use. Top: Rob Austin on a qualifying lap. Bottom Left: Rob Austin waits to go out on track for qualifying. Bottom Right: Mechanics successfully working flat out to fix Hunter Abbott's damaged Audi in time for qualifying.

Photo creditRob Austin Racing