ROB Austin and Hunter Abbott both described their Donington Park British Touring Car Championship race weekend as “frustrating” with a tenth position the best they could manage between them in the three races, but there were still signs for optimism heading into the next rounds at Thruxton in Hampshire.
Evesham’s Austin made up three places from his starting grid position to finish tenth in Sunday’s opening race in his Exocet AlcoSense Audi, whilst Maidenhead’s Abbott was 19th.
Both chose race two to run the softer option tyre and Abbott was unfortunate not to finish inside the points this time as damage to the rear of his car meant he slid down the order to finish 17th, one place ahead of Austin.
In race three Austin was in the running for a top ten again until the closing stages when another driver barged him off the track into retirement – the same driver who had spun Abbott around at the opening bend – although Abbott was at least able to recover to finish 14th and score points.
Austin commented: “It’s been frustrating. To start the day with my best result in the BTCC at Donington was a plus as it showed the gains we’ve made as a team with the Audi, but to end it being driven into by an idiot is not the best feeling.
“I just do not know what the bloke was thinking and it’s valuable points down the drain for us having shown some genuine pace as well – we set one of the fastest laps of the race.
“Unfortunately in race two we tried something set-up wise with the soft tyre which didn’t work for us. However, the big part of the frustration is knowing we’ve gone a lot better than before at one of our bogey tracks and not seen the results of that.”
Abbott added: “Frustrating definitely! My car suffered a lot of damage in the first free practice session on Saturday when it was hit from behind by another car and we’ve been playing catch-up ever since. It meant I had to qualify a crocked car which wasn’t properly fixed until today’s (Sunday) races.
“In that second race on the softer tyre I was having a very good run but got hit in the rear again which damaged the rear suspension and which is why I dropped back.
“Without that I’d have had a much higher starting place on the grid for race three. At least I was able to take a few points from that one but it could have been quite a bit better.”
Both Exocet AlcoSense Audis will now return to the Rob Austin Racing team’s workshops in Pershore to be prepared for the Dunlop British Touring Car Championship’s next three races at the high-speed Thruxton circuit on the weekend of May 9/10.
Hunter Abbott and Rob Austin in action at Donington Park. Picture by Darren Price. (s)
Rob Austin on two wheels. Picture by Darren Price. (s)