EVESHAM’S Rob Austin this weekend heads to Northamptonshire’s Rockingham circuit – scene of his dramatic breakthrough first race win last year – as he celebrates 100 races in the Dunlop British Touring Car Championship.
Austin will reach his century in the first of Sunday’s three races but he said: “I’d prefer to keep it for race two and my 101st race – it makes perfect sense to me as my main sponsor FAST Exocet’s top fuel additive is called Rush 101 and even my race number is 101 as a result.”
The Exocet Racing star will arrive at Rockingham brimming with confidence after achieving two podium results in the previous meeting at Knockhill, where he took second and third placed finishes – the only driver that day to twice stand on the rostrum.
He added: “Knockhill was great for us – it’s a circuit that suits our Audi – and it’s always worked well at Rockingham as well, so we are hopeful we will have another strong run.
“Obviously we got it spot on at Rockingham 12 months ago with a third in race one and our first ever win in the BTCC in race two. Just as at Knockhill, though, just because we did it in 2013 doesn’t necessarily mean we can do it again this time around. We must leave no stone unturned and be right on top of our game if we are to continue to fight right at the front.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the levels of professionalism and intensity among the competition in the BTCC are probably higher than any other motor racing series anywhere in Europe right now and even more so than some championships with world status. The moment you drop your guard in the BTCC or let even the tiniest bit of complacency creep in you are toast.”
Austin believes that Rockingham – built US oval-style in a man-made arena – is a real favourite among the teams, drivers and watching public.
He continued: “It might not have the natural swoops of an Oulton Park but it is still very rewarding to get right for a driver and the layout at Rockingham also generates some of the closest action of the year in the BTCC.
“I can’t help telling my team on the radio when I go through the banked turn one that I’m ‘going high’! For about five seconds every lap I am Ricky Bobby!
“But it’s my team-mate Hunter (Abbott) who is the man to beat around the banking if it is wet – when we were team-mates in the same cars in GTs and with his ASCAR experience he was untouchable through there!”