Austin plays down form after Oulton and Donington tests
Worcestershire’s Rob Austin is keen to play down his team’s pre-season testing form ahead of the new Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship despite a promising three days of testing at Oulton Park and Donington Park.
Exocet Racing-backed Austin managed plenty of trouble-free laps on Tuesday in wet and then dry conditions at Oulton in Cheshire aboard his Audi A4 – nicknamed Sherman. A waterlogged track surface forced the Pershore-based squad to cut short its Wednesday programme as it then headed to Donington on the Derbys-Leics border for 60 laps of dry running today (13 February).
Donington Park was busy with BTCC action as Austin was joined on track by Honda Yuasa Racing duo Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden, plus Pirtek Racing’s Andrew Jordan and new recruit Martin Depper.
Evesham racer Austin, whose team was one of only five to win a race last season, commented: “The raw pace we seem to be getting – even in very cold conditions – is awesome. We’ve been able to compare ourselves against the factory MG and Honda cars as well as reigning champ Andrew Jordan’s Honda and all I’ll say is I’m pretty chuffed with our lap times. It is always impossible to know what the others are up to in testing and you know they’ve probably got something up their sleeves with the extra resources they have, but we’re heading back to base tonight in a very good mood.
“The car hasn’t missed a beat and we’ve been able to get through a lot of set-up changes, plus really work a lot on the suspension side of things which is crucial. Every time we make even a small tweak it makes a difference, which is always a good sign. All my team have done a phenomenal job.”
Austin has at least two more tests planned prior to the BTCC’s high-profile Season Launch back at Donington on Tuesday 18 March. Then there will be just 12 days to go before the BTCC – Britain’s biggest motor racing spectacle – bursts into action with the first of its ten race events in 2014 at Brands Hatch in Kent on Sunday 30 March.
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