“A DAY of frustrations and missed opportunities” is how Evesham’s Rob Austin summed up his Sunday at Silverstone in the Dunlop British Touring Car Championship’s latest three rounds in which he and team-mate Hunter Abbott (Maidenhead) were only once able to break into the points having gone into the event optimistic of strong results.
Austin hustled his Exocet Racing Audi to a solid ninth position in race one but from there his afternoon took a turn for the worse. On course for another top ten in race two, his car suffered damage in a collision with a rival and he was forced to retire. That meant he started race three towards the rear of the highly competitive 30-car grid and he could climb no higher than 18th.
Abbott was forced to start race one also from near the rear after problems in Saturday’s qualifying session and he got only as far as the second corner when his AlcoSense Racing Audi – which had already made up six positions – was rammed out of the race by another car.
In race two, having again started from the back, he crossed the line in 23rd. Race three brought the same result after his car was hit repeatedly by a rival which later resulted in a spin.
Austin, whose Pershore-based Rob Austin Racing team prepares both cars, reflected: “We’ve had decent race pace – good enough for the top ten all day – and we’ve been much nearer the ultimate pace here than 12 months ago.
“But the incident in race two simply killed it for us when instead we should have been racking up more valuable points and been in the mix for the reversed grid draw for race three. The only way to sum it up is a day of frustration and missed opportunities.
“I’ve openly said that my goal for this season was to finish inside the top ten in the championship but, having gone into the weekend ninth in the standings, we’re now back to 12th.
“It’s going to take something special to claw that ground back in the final three rounds at Brands Hatch but this is the BTCC and anything can happen – particularly on a day when the title will be at stake and a lot of drivers tend to try some crazy moves to sign off on a high.”
Abbott said: “This is not an event I’ll look back on with great fondness. Race three was a real shame as I’d made another decent start and I really felt like a points finish was on the cards.
“Unfortunately I had a big lock up which ground the left front tyre down to the canvass and that put the handling massively out for the rest of the race. Then someone decided instead of driving around me it might be better to try driving through me – cue a very badly damaged rear end again to my car which, again, has left the team a lot of repair work to do between events.
“From here I’m going to go and enjoy the Oktoberfest in Munich and use it as a weekend to forget! Then on to the season finale at Brands Hatch Grand Prix – one of my all-time top two favourite circuits. It’s sure to be a hectic event with it being the finale so I need to focus on being in the right place at the right time.”
Rob Austin prepares to race. Picture by Darren Price. (s)