SEVENTH, sixth and fifth placed finishes in Sunday’s three races at Knockhill amounted to Rob Austin’s most competitive day so far in the 2015 Dunlop British Touring Car Championship season, but his Rob Austin Racing team had even greater reason to celebrate events off the track as team-mate Hunter Abbott became father to a baby son after flying home early on Sunday morning to be present for the birth.
The Scottish circuit has always been one of the strongest circuits for the Pershore-based, RAR-prepared Exocet AlcoSense Audis and Austin, of Evesham, duly qualified a highly competitive sixth fastest for the race one grid. Having fought with both factory Hondas in the closing stages of the race, he finished seventh.
Race two saw Austin fight with eventual winner Gordon Shedden’s Honda and he was unfortunate to fall to sixth in the closing stages. In race three he came close to a podium result but had to settle for fifth.
“It’s been frustrating,” said Austin. “We’ve had a quick car all day – particularly in races one and two – yet we haven’t come away with the results we deserved.
“In race one as I exited the final bend the data shows I was on course to set the fastest lap which would have meant pole position for race two, but as I approached the start-finish line I had to back off as the safety car had come out.
“In race two I was up alongside Shedden several times and really had got the moves done, only the first time to have to back out because a backmarker was blocking my path and the second time because a yellow flag was being waved.
“In race three I had a chance on the last lap to get Aiden Moffat for fourth, which would have become third because of Andy Priaulx’s penalty, but Moffat is a young Scottish guy racing in front of his home crowd and he was desperate, so I backed out as I didn’t want to risk coming out of Knockhill with a ton of damage.
“To be fair to Moffat, he deserved the place as he drove well.”
The RAR team’s next touring car races are the Rockingham circuit in Northamptonshire (September 5/6) where Austin has won twice before in 2013 and 2014.
However, Austin says his immediate thoughts are with team-mate Abbott and his wife Susie following their new addition to the family.
“I’ve already named the baby for Hunter. Baby Rob! I’m naturally looking forward to being appointed godfather in due course,” said Austin.
“Of course, we’re all so happy to have a new member of the team as well as being genuinely delighted for Hunter and Susie. Many, many congratulations to them from everyone in the team and all our fantastic fans. I’m really excited about going and meeting baby Rob.”