EVESHAM’S Rob Austin was twice in the points in Sunday’s three Dunlop British Touring Car Championship races at Norfolk’s Snetterton circuit – results that keep him firmly in the hunt for a top ten placing in Britain’s premier motor racing championship.
Austin started the day’s first race – the 100th in the BTCC for his Pershore-based Rob Austin Racing team – from 13th on the 31-car grid and he converted that into an 11th placed finish in his Exocet Racing Audi.
Thirteenth in race two followed for more points but his chances of scoring again in race three were cruelly dashed when his car’s power steering failed on the way to the starting grid, meaning he was unable to break into the hallowed top 15.
However, with Knockhill in Fife (August 23/24) and Rockingham in Northamptonshire (September 6/7) – where last year he achieved his team’s first ever pole position and race win respectively – looming large, he remains optimistic of closing back in on a top ten championship position.
“We’ve not quite had the raw pace at Snetterton so it was important to take what we could and I don’t believe we could have wrung any more from the car today (Sunday),” commented Austin.
“Race three was a great shame as I felt a top ten was on the cards but instead, with the power steering gone, I really had to man up to muscle the car along. The physical effort to drive one of these things with no power steering is massive.
“Still, we’ve come away with some points at least and the gap to tenth is very do-able. We’re 26 off with two of our much stronger circuits to come in the next month or so. It’ll be hugely important that we make the most of those two events.
“I’m also immensely proud of our team having achieved a century in the BTCC. It’s a fantastic championship to be a part of. Even though there are plenty of highs and lows along the way, the incredible effort that goes on behind the scenes is worth it all!
“I prefer to think of this as our first 100 with many more races to come in the future. I’d also like to say a huge thank you to the brilliant sponsors, partners and fans we have for going through it all with us. Their support never ceases to humble and amaze me.”
Meanwhile, Austin’s team-mate Hunter Abbott (Maidenhead) was unable to score at Snetterton. Notably, his AlcoSense Breathalysers Racing Audi sported ‘Just Married’ windscreen strips following his recent marriage to long-time partner Susie!
There was also a bizarre moment for him in race two today. Abbott explained: “I got turned around by another driver and the impact knocked the car’s electrics off. I was stranded so got out of the car, switched them back on, climbed back in, did my belts up and got on my way again but by then I was too far behind to get anywhere near the points.
“There might have been a whiff of a point or two in race three but I made a tiny error which led to a spin at high speed.
“It’s been tough to get the car working to my liking at Snetterton, but I’m really optimistic for Knockhill and Rockingham. It’s important to remember that different circuits play to different cars’ strengths and, given what happened to the team 12 months ago, I’m sure Rob and I can both be right towards the sharp end there.”