PERSHORE-based Rob Austin Racing achieved something of a breakthrough result at Thruxton’s Dunlop British Touring Car Championship races on Sunday with a first top ten result at what has traditionally been its bogey circuit.
Evesham’s Rob Austin finished in ninth place in the second of three races and declared: “For here, how tough it’s been for us in the past, that feel likes a win.”
Behind him, team-mate Hunter Abbott finished 14th and this was the first time both RAR Audis have finished a BTCC race at the Hampshire circuit together inside the points.
The result made up for disappointment in races one and three. In race one Austin finished 14th – also in the points – ahead of Abbott in 16th and in race three Austin, up to seventh early on, limped home a lowly 17th after contact from rivals’ cars damaged his Audi’s steering.
Abbott was also out of luck, needing a pit stop to replace a deflated tyre, and he finished 21st.
Austin said: “It’s been massively positive for us. We didn’t have a good qualifying so tried something a bit out of the unknown for us with the car’s set-up for race day and it’s transformed its performance around here.
“In race one I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy in my career to finish 14th! Ninth in race two feels like a win and Hunter finishing in the points in the same race as well was a real bonus.
“In race three I had a fantastic dice with (championship leader) Gordon Shedden early on – I think we almost did an entire lap side by side – so full respect to him, but that also lost me time and the kids behind started smashing into me. A shame they don’t have the race craft yet…
“But that’s it now. Our worst circuit out of the way and we’ve surpassed all expectations in terms of results at it. And we know what is coming – Oulton Park (6-7 June) and Croft (27-28 June), two circuits where we are traditionally very strong.”
For Abbott, being on the grid on Sunday was a relief after a heavy crash in qualifying had badly damaged his Exocet AlcoSense Audi and left him with a sore neck and back.
“I’m glad to be going home, to be honest,” he reflected. “It’s not been the weekend I’d hoped for but seeing what Rob managed in race two is still a boost for everyone concerned.
“It was nice to back him up with a few points of my own in that race and in race three I felt I was on for a few more but got spun around by someone.
“I would really like to thank all the mechanics who work on my car. I left them with a lot of work to do on Saturday night after qualifying and I know how hard they worked into the night to repair the car.
“I’ll go to Oulton Park even more determined to repay them with strong results.”