Austin & Co eyeing victory bid one year on from maiden triumph - The Evesham Observer

Austin & Co eyeing victory bid one year on from maiden triumph

Evesham Editorial 25th Sep, 2018 Updated: 25th Sep, 2018   0

BRANDS Hatch Grand Prix Circuit – scene of DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing’s maiden Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race win 12 months ago – hosts the finale of the 2018 season this coming weekend and the team is determined to try and challenge for victory in Kent once again.

Going into Sunday’s rounds 28, 29 and 30, the squad has a renewed confidence after a highly competitive outing at Silverstone last time out when ace driver Rob Austin almost secured his second podium of the year.

At the wheel of the hugely popular No 11 Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Evesham racer Austin delivered some star performances – notably surging through the order from 24th to ninth in race two and then taking a top five result in race three, having been in the podium battle throughout.

Confirming the sort of pace and capability which has gradually been unlocked in the Alfa during recent events heading into the final race meeting of the squad’s first year with its striking Giulietta team, principal Simon Belcher says the outfit is very much aiming to end the season in style.

One year on from its memorable maiden BTCC victory, achieved by Austin and the squad’s since-departed Toyota Avensis, the team is resolutely determined to mount the strongest challenge possible for a repeat performance and thus a first win for the Alfa Romeo.

“Silverstone was obviously a good weekend, we deserved a podium and should have had one, and if the reverse grid had worked in our favour for the last race Rob and the car had the pace to win without a doubt,” said Belcher.

“We obviously won the final race of the season last year at Brands GP with the Toyota and I think there’s every possibility we could do it again, this time with the Alfa.

“It’s frustrating how the season has been having started on such a high – fastest at Media Day and then a podium at the first round. We struggled to show the true pace of the car and the package as a whole until recently, but in some instances we’ve needed to go the wrong way to then go in the right direction and make progress.

“The first year with a brand new car is always tough, but we know we’ve produced a quick touring car in the Alfa Romeo and we’ve demonstrated that time and again in practice.

“The majority of disappointments have come through on-track incidents, which have been no fault of Rob’s and just a result of poor driving standards from the same few drivers.”

Austin, renowned as one of the most fearless and tenacious competitors in the BTCC, is equally as buoyant going into the last event of the first year with the DUO, Northgate and Close Brothers-backed Giulietta and is relishing the chance of trying to add to his victory tally.

Silverstone certainly seemed to mark another key step forward for the team and, while Austin’s second podium of 2018 is still proving elusive – the first having come on Brands’ shorter Indy Circuit configuration during the season-opener in April – the return to Kent could well be a success.

“I’m going to be absolutely gutted if we can’t end this season with another podium,” said the fans’ favourite.

“The boys have had such a tough year but have done a great job developing the DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing Alfa Romeo and, through no fault of our own, they haven’t been rewarded with more good results.”

Austin is 15th in the standings and seventh in the Independents, with the team 15th and 11th respectively.

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