Austin's hopes are high for impressive performance after mystery issue is resolved - The Evesham Observer

Austin's hopes are high for impressive performance after mystery issue is resolved

Evesham Editorial 21st Aug, 2017   0

ROCKINGHAM International Super Sportscar Circuit – the venue for Rob Austin’s maiden Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race win four years ago – hosts the eighth event of the season over the Bank Holiday weekend when the Evesham driver is targeting a major podium push.

Determination at Handy Motorsport is the highest it has been all season after the hugely frustrating outing at Knockhill in Scotland last time around when a nightmare qualifying session set the scene for three extremely vexing races for Northgate and Duo-backed Austin.

In the days since the BTCC’s annual trip north of the border, though, Handy Motorsport’s mechanics have uncovered a previously unidentified issue with the No 11 Toyota Avensis which has been traced back to contact from the previous event at Snetterton – explaining a mysterious lack of pace.

Now all attention turns to Rockingham, the first of two successive events in Northamptonshire, where Austin has his sights squarely set on a return to the overall podium with the additional aim of three consistent points scores to get the season moving back in the right direction.

Rockingham, of course, holds extremely happy memories for Austin as the venue where he achieved his first BTCC race victory back in 2013 at the wheel of his famous ‘Sherman’ Audi A4 on a memorable double podium-finishing weekend.

At the corresponding fixture the following year, he returned to the top step of the podium with a fabulous win during the event’s final race.

“Knockhill was very unfortunate but since we’ve been back we found a problem with the car which was a result of contact at Snetterton, so that explains a lot,” said Austin.

“Due to the tight turnaround between races we’d overlooked something, so we’ve learnt from that. We knew something had to be wrong – not being able to fight through from 23rd on the grid just wasn’t right.

“So, with everything back to how it should be, I’m sure we’ll be back to top ten pace at Rockingham and, obviously, I have a good history there – as does the Toyota actually.

“There’s only been one meeting this year where we haven’t had a car with the potential for podiums and that was Knockhill because of the issue we found. I’m sure we’ll be competitive at Rockingham, we’re all very focused.”

As a result of the trials and tribulations in Scotland, Austin frustratingly slipped out of the overall top ten in the BTCC driver standings by just a single point behind two-time champion Jason Plato.

In the equally hotly-contested Independents Trophy, though, the Worcestershire racer maintained fourth spot.

In the team standings, Handy Motorsport still retain a top ten place, only three points shy of ninth position, while in the Independents Team Trophy the squad hold fifth place, only 14 points outside the top four.

So far in 2017, Austin and Handy have secured one overall pole position and one outright podium, while in the Independents Trophy the tally reads one victory, three second placed finishes and four other top three results.

Free practice for the BTCC competitors at Rockingham will take place at 9.25am and noon on Saturday, with qualifying following at 3.30pm. On Sunday, round 22 is set to begin at around 11.35am, round 23 will commence at approximately 1.55pm and round 24 will conclude the track action from 4.40pm.

Qualifying and all three races will be streamed live online at, with the race-day action also screened live on ITV4.

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